India prepares to take flight to Mars with the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

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After a long period of providing no official information online, ISRO has started to provide lots more information about the mission through its website and through its Facebook page, as well as a newly launched Facebook page specifically for the Mars Orbiter Mission. They've been posting lots of great photos at the mission's Facebook page, in high resolution. There is even acountdown clock. Indian websites and newspapers are bursting with articles about the mission — I'll post a list of links to some of them at the end of the article. It's an exciting time!

Here's a graphic that shows the flight profile of the mission. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will lift it into a highly elliptical parking orbit with a perigee of 248 kilometers and an apogee of 23,000 kilometers. Over a period of about a month, six orbital maneuvers will gradually increase the distance of the apogee. Finally, a seventh maneuver will inject the spacecraft onto a path that will transfer it to Mars. The cruise to Mars will take about ten months; it'll arrive in September or October of 2014. Its orbit at Mars will also be highly elliptical, with a periapsis of 377 kilometers and an apoapsis of 80,000 kilometers. For context, Mars' outer moon Deimos orbits at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers.

The spacecraft carries a small payload of five instruments weighing a total of 15 kilograms. Thescientific goals of the mission are rather unspecific: "Exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy, and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instrument." By "indigenous" they mean "developed in India" — a departure from their approach with Chandrayaan-1. Science is really a secondary goal on this mission. What this mission is really about is the development of India's capability in space. The technological objectives are the main drivers. ISRO states three objectives:

  • Design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.
  • Deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.
  • Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.

Written By: Emily Lakdawalla
continue to source article at planetary.org

7 COMMENTS

  1. It is interesting to see countries that are striving to do something to push ahead take on these big challenges. In Australia we were doing space and weapons research at Woomera which was given up to focus on breeding sheep and digging holes. I’m glad we didn’t continue with the weapons research but we gave up being competitive in space and Australia’s lack of confidence and general inability to make hard decisions shows even today. Good on India!

    • In reply to #2 by Reckless Monkey:

      It is interesting to see countries that are striving to do something to push ahead take on these big challenges. In Australia we were doing space and weapons research at Woomera which was given up to focus on breeding sheep and digging holes. I’m glad we didn’t continue with the weapons research b…

      true. australia has gone down the road of mediocrity, the lowest common denominator, and has abandoned regular religion for the religions of sport and empty celebrity, and populism. even the once laudable national broadcaster is heading down the same track in what it now broadcasts …

      • In reply to #6 by Net:

        true. australia has gone down the road of mediocrity, the lowest common denominator, and has abandoned regular religion for the religions of sport and empty celebrity, and populism. even the once laudable national broadcaster is heading down the same track in what it now broadcasts ..

        Sadly , we in Australia do not even have a Minister for Science any longer (the first time since 1931), although there is a Minister for Sport.

  2. @OP -

    As a nation that contains hundreds of millions of people living in crushing poverty, how can they spend money on space exploration?

    This is a fair question. I’ve driven past slums in Mumbai with a sick feeling in my heart at the difficulty of the lives that they lead, and the enormity and complexity of the problem of improving their conditions. However, there’s an error in the question. It assumes that there is a fixed quantity of wealth in India, and that stopping investment in high-tech industry would mean more money for the poor. Wealth doesn’t work that way; there is not a fixed quantity of it. The technology India is developing for this mission has direct commercial applications, generating economic activity that will increase the nation’s overall wealth. And I think that backers of India’s space program believe that achieving a successful mission to Mars would increase confidence in India’s technological prowess and therefore the flow of investment money. To be seen in the company of the U.S. and China and Europe would have to stimulate such investment.

    India actually has a record of using space technology to help the poor. It has been using satellite television to communicate with remote areas for decades. It has been issuing weather warnings of floods and storms, and more recently using SAT-NAVs to improve transport.

    http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/india-to-launch-sat-nav-system/story-e6frfkui-1226672723551 @ July 01, 2013

    One satellite will be launched every six months with the IRNSS expected to be fully operational by 2015, the space agency said.

    IRNSS will provide commercial and public navigational services such as helping with disaster management as well as movements of India’s military, including those of ships and aircraft.

    “When fully operational, the system will provide two types of services; standard positioning service and restricted service,” Karnik said, after the countdown for the launch began on Saturday.

    @OP link – That being said, it’s true that making India overall wealthier will not necessarily benefit India’s poor. Making new wealth improve the lives of India’s poor depends on action by India’s people and their elected representatives to accomplish that goal. The space program can’t do that directly. The space program can make India wealthier.

    There is a considerable IT sector in India and it is one of the first countries to build a tidal turbine electrical generation system. They are committed to technical development.

    The downside is a lack of health and safety laws or enforcement – which allows businesses (some foreign) to exploit the people and cause poverty and health problems. There are also problems of corruption and conflicts from backward religious silliness.

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