India’s Mars Orbiter Mission is Lastly out of Gasoline After 8 Years of Science Operations

Scientists and engineers appear to have problem arising with estimated mission timelines for his or her area exploration initiatives. Most don’t even attain the primary day after succumbing to at least one type or one other of technical failure, generally leading to a dramatic fireball. Others have missions that reach orders of magnitude longer than they had been initially designed for. Such is the case for India’s first mission to the Pink Planet, which lastly appears to have run out of gas eight years into its unique six-month mission.

The mission, recognized colloquially because the Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, was initially launched in 2013 and entered an orbit round Mars in 2014. Whereas in orbit, it spent the higher a part of eight years amassing knowledge to ship again to its working scientists on the Indian Area Analysis Group (ISRO). 

Although technically deliberate as a technology demonstrator, MOM, often known as Mangalyaan (or “Mars craft” in Sanskrit), carried 5 scientific devices, which, whereas they had been comparatively small and cheap, weighing in at simply over 15 kg for the entire payload, in addition they supplied vital perception into areas that scientists didn’t perceive about Mars on the time.

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UT video discussing why its so onerous to ship a spacecraft to Mars.

A kind of vital areas was methane – there was a long-standing debate concerning the sources of methane in Mars’ environment, and MOM helped to supply some perception into that. It acted as a wonderful complement to different, extra superior, and subsequently costlier, western orbiter efforts akin to Maven, which was launched across the identical time.

However all good issues should come to an finish, and that was no exception for MOM. The spacecraft was designed to resist lots of the challenges related to orbiting across the Pink Planet, together with utilizing a restricted provide of gas to dodge out of the best way of eclipses in order that its batteries wouldn’t be too diminished earlier than being recharged by its on-board photo voltaic panels.

Nevertheless, the gas it used for maneuvering ultimately ran out, and it was unable to dodge out of the best way of an eclipse that lasted greater than seven hours. Its batteries had been designed to resist an eclipse that lasted lower than two hours. So when the craft lastly emerged from the eclipse, its batteries had been under the vital threshold that will enable it to restart. ISRO ultimately declared the craft as formally decommissioned on October third.

Temporary description of the MOM mission.
Credit score – thecuriousengineer YouTube channel

It leaves a typically constructive legacy, although. India was one of many first international locations to efficiently introduce a craft to the Mars system on its first attempt. America and the Soviet Union suffered loads of setbacks earlier than the present spherical of profitable rovers (and helicopters) traversing the planet.

That being stated, the subsequent step for ISRO in its Mars exploration program stays unclear. Whereas the group solicited concepts for a follow-up mission to Mars in 2016, no discernible progress has come by means of on that entrance within the final six years.

Regardless of that stagnation, ISRO ought to be pleased with the work they already put in on MOM and of the scientific knowledge that it collected. The extra international locations that may work together with Mars in a method or one other, the higher.

Study Extra:
The Tribune – No gas, India’s Mars Orbiter craft quietly bids adieu
UT – India’s Historic 1st Mission to Mars Celebrates 1 Yr in Orbit at Pink Planet
UT – Indian Mars Orbiter Shoots Spectacular New Pictures of Sheer Canyon and Curiosity’s Crater
UT – Dazzling Gallery From India’s MOM Mars Orbiter Digital camera

Lead Picture:
Artist’s depiction of MOM in flight.
Credit score – The Tribune

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