Scientists and engineers have problem arising with estimated mission timelines for his or her house 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 stretch 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 Mars Orbiter Mission
The mission, identified 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 information to ship again to its working scientists on the Indian Area Analysis Group (ISRO).
Although technically deliberate as a expertise 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 kilograms for the entire payload, in addition they supplied important perception into areas that scientists didn’t perceive about Mars on the time.
A type of important 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 due to this fact costlier, western orbiter efforts resembling Maven, which was launched across the similar time.
However all good issues should come to an finish, and that was no exception for MOM. The spacecraft was designed to face up to most 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.
Nonetheless, the gas it used for maneuvering finally 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 face up to an eclipse that lasted lower than two hours. So when the craft lastly emerged from the eclipse, its batteries had been beneath the important threshold that will enable it to restart. ISRO finally declared the craft as formally decommissioned on October 3.
What’s subsequent for India and Mars?
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 strive. 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 following 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 way of on that entrance within the final six years.
Regardless of that stagnation, ISRO must be pleased with the work they already put in on MOM and of the scientific information that it collected. The extra international locations that may work together with Mars in a technique or one other, the higher.