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