On November, 5th 2013 ISRO launched its first orbiter to Mars which made every Indian proud on Wednesday, the 24th of September, 2014. It took more than 10 months of hard work and continuous tracking and positioning by a team of more than 100 ISRO’s top scientists led by Shri V. KesavaRaju, Mission Director. Mr. Raju has accredited this success in such a short time and at the most cost effective way to the young team and the meticulous care at every stage from spacecraft’s conceptualization to the realization.
ISRO built first of its kind, Long distance communication with the space craft in addition to the autonomy to the aircraft for taking decisions on its own in case of any contingency. ISRO targeted a periapsis (closest approach to mars) of 423 km and an apoapsis (farthest distance) of 80,000 km and successfully achieved 427 km and 78,500 km respectively. It was required to keep reducing the speed of aircraft by 1.1 km per second to get into Martian orbit which was successfully done by the team.
In words of Project Director, Shri S. Arunan, “It is the ability to walk into a fear that makes the project a success”. He expressed his confidence in ISRO’s ability to accurately predict the possible contingencies in the deep-space travel. The success of the mission is a result of ISRO’s ability to communicate at a distance of 400 million km, while the requirement for the mission was that of 224 million km.
In practical terms the mission is set to chalk a way to conduct science experiments about the atmosphere, mineralogy, presence of methane – an indicator of possible microbial life on Mars. The data is expected to give scientists a clearer understanding of the evolution of Mars from observations of its geological and biogenic processes. The cameras, spectrometer, photometer and a radiometer would help in exploring Mars’ morphology.
Technically the target was very tough and the stakes were high. Almost 300 long days of waiting, tracking and worrying for contingencies has paid really well. Our PM Shri Narendra Modi calls the mission as true success as the technology was purely build indigenously in a record less time and in a highly cost efficient manner. It is noteworthy that India is the first Asian country to successfully accomplish mission to Mars. China’s only attempt to reach Mars in 2011 was a failure.
India launched its first space rocket in 1963 and its first satellite in 1975. Concentrating its efforts on socio-economic development of the country ISRO has shown its renewed interest, efforts and results in this mission. Mars mission is a natural progression in the quest for its deep space exploration.