10 MUST KNOWs About India’s Mars Orbiter Mission

“…ISRO’s general philosophy is cost effectiveness. The Russians look for robustness and the Americans go after optimization. Our aim at ISRO was how do we get to Mars on a budget.”  -Kopillil Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO

   Today, the 24th day of September 2014, India joined the elite group of countries which have their satellites orbiting the Red Planet. This feat was made successful by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally known as Mangalyaan (Sanskrit; Mangal-Mars, Yaan-craft). Here are a few facts you must know about India, Mars and The Mangalyaan:

  1. Mars Orbiter Mission is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission to Mars with an unmanned spacecraft designed to orbit the Red Planet in elliptical orbit.
  1. India is the FIRST ASIAN COUNTRY and the fourth country in the world to have a spacecraft in the Martian orbit.
  1. India is the FIRST country in the world to send a spacecraft to Mars on its very FIRST attempt.
  1. MOM is the cheapest Mars mission ever, with a budget of around $74 million (Rs. 450 Crore). The satellite costs only $25 million. NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter which landed in the Martian orbit on 22nd September 2014 cost around $671 million, almost ten times more than Mangalyaan. The budget of the Hollywood movie Gravity is $100 million.
  1. Mars Orbiter Mission was launched on 5th November 2013 on a PSLV-XL C25 Rocket, with a lift-off mass of 1,350 kg (500kg Dry Mass + 852kg of propellant) from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Mangalyaan launched on 5th November 2013
Mangalyaan launched on 5th November 2013
  1. The primary objective of MOM is to showcase India’s rocket launch systems, spacecraft-building and opetation capabilities. Another crucial objective is to explore Mars’ surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
  1. MOM has an on-orbit mission life of 6-10 months.
  1. The distance between Earth and Mars is about 140 million miles (73,391+ trips from Jammu to Kanyakumari with an additional 1001km of travel). Hence, the cost of the Mangalyaan’s journey is about Rs. 6.61 per kilometre or Rs. 4 per Indian. (Less than the fare of an auto-rickshaw).
  1. The Mars Orbiter Mission was developed and deployed in just 15 months.
  2. It takes 14 minutes for a signal from Mangalyaan to reach Earth, as compared to 1 second to call from one place on the earth to any other place on it.
Artist's rendering of the MOM orbiting Mars
Artist’s rendering of the MOM orbiting Mars

© Barnadhya Rwitam Sharma

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