Since its inception in 1969, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has made significant advancements in space exploration. It has achieved numerous milestones in developing space technology. In recent years, ISRO has undertaken several ambitious space missions, including Chandrayaan, Aditya-L1, and the Mangalyaan mission.
In August 2023, the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 Lander Module successfully landed on the Moon’s south pole, becoming the first to do so. This uncharted region is believed to contain frozen water, which could be crucial for future space missions. Another space mission by ISRO is the Aditya L-1 mission launched in September 2023 to study the solar atmosphere, solar magnetic storms, and their impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.
Before the Chandrayaan and Aditya L-1 missions, the first Mars orbiter mission by ISRO was launched in 2013, known as the Mangalyaan mission. This article sheds light on the Mangal mission by ISRO (Mangalyaan mission) and its much-anticipated sequel, Mangalyaan Mission 2.
Mangalyaan: Indian Mars Mission
The Mars orbiter mission, popularly known as the ‘Mangalyaan Mission’, was India’s first interplanetary mission to Mars. It was launched on November 5, 2013, making ISRO the fourth space agency to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars’ Orbit. It was launched on-board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle – C25 (abbreviated as PSLV-C25).
The Mangal mission cost India just INR 450 crores ($73 million) and was one of the most cost-effective interplanetary missions ever designed. It was even cheaper than Hollywood’s 2014 blockbuster ‘Interstellar’, which had a budget of $165 million.
The mission’s primary objective was to develop the technologies required for designing, planning, managing, and operating an interplanetary mission. The secondary objective was to explore Mars’ surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
Mangalyaan carried a Mars Color Camera (MCC) to take pictures of the planet and its surroundings to help see and understand its surface features. Some other scientific instruments it carried were:
- Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS),
- Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM),
- Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA) and
- Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP).
All these instruments contributed significantly to studying the planet.
Was The India Mars Mission Successful?
The Indian Mars mission significantly contributed to our understanding of the Martian landscape, atmospheric conditions, and the potential presence of water molecules in its atmosphere.
The MCC took snapshots of the ‘Full disc’ of Mars. It produced more than 1000 images and published a Mars Atlas. It also made possible the first observation of the far side of Deimos, one of the moons of Mars.
The Mars orbiter mission by ISRO marked a significant milestone for India as it helped India join an exclusive group of nations that achieved a successful Mars mission. It also became the first country in the world to achieve this feat on its inaugural Mars mission. Mangalyaan mission also won some famous awards:
- Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development – For its contribution to strengthening international cooperation for the peaceful use of outer space.
- The Space Pioneer Award in 2015 – awarded by the National Space Society (US Based).
Unfortunately, in April 2022, ISRO lost contact with Mangalyaan due to propellant (fuel) exhaustion. There were back-to-back eclipses in April, including one that lasted seven-and-half hours. Due to its design, the satellite battery could only handle an eclipse of up to one hour and 40 minutes. A longer eclipse would cause the battery to be drained beyond its safe limit.
Though the mission life was six months, Mangalyaan completed seven years in Mars’ orbit on September 24, 2021. Mangalyaan ended and gave way to its sequel, Mangalyaan 2.
Mangalyaan 2: Indian Mars Mission
After Mangalyaan, ISRO announced its plan to launch a second Indian Mars mission at the Engineers Conclave conference in Bengaluru on October 28, 2014. Mangalyaan 2 is expected to delve even further into the exploration of Mars.
More About The 2nd Mangal Mission By ISRO
- This next Mars orbiter mission by ISRO is expected to launch by 2024.
- In February 2021, ISRO called for the ‘Announcement of Opportunities’ on the Mars orbiter mission and announced that Mangalyaan 2 would only be an orbiter mission.
- The LVM3, which first flew on June 5, 2017, is the proposed launch vehicle for this mission. It may have enough power to place Mangalyaan 2 on a direct trajectory to Mars, even with heavier satellites in tow.
- The total science payload mass is estimated to be around 100 kg (220 lb).
- One of the science payloads is under development by the Space Satellite Systems and Payloads Centre (SSPACE), part of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST). It is an ionosphere plasma instrument named ARIS. The engineering model and high vacuum tests have already been completed.
- The mission is said to include a hyperspectral camera, a very high-resolution panchromatic camera and a radar to better understand the early stages of Mars, its early crust, recent basalts, and ongoing activities such as boulder falls.
- In 2016, France and India signed a “letter of intent” for CNES and ISRO to build Mangalyaan 2 by 2020. However, in 2018, France withdrew its participation from this mission.
- To further this mission, the Government of India, in its 2017 annual budget, funded the Mars orbiter mission 2.
Public Reaction To The India Mars Mission
ISRO’s achievement of placing a spacecraft in Mars orbit in their first attempt gained attention and praise from students, the general public, media and the international science community. It created enthusiasm among the younger generation in the country about space exploration.
There have been numerous adaptations of India’s Mars mission in films and televisions, the most popular being the movie ‘Mission Mangal’. Additionally, a web series called ‘Mission Over Mars’ and an online release called ‘Space MOMs’ loosely depict the mission. A short film called ‘Mission Mars: Keep Walking India’ was also released in 2018.
The Indian government even featured an illustration of Mangalyaan on the reverse side of the country’s highest denomination currency note, the ₹2,000 note. Additionally, Author Minnie Vaid wrote a book titled ‘Those Magnificent Women and their Flying Machines’, highlighting the achievements of women who played key roles in the mission.
What Does Mangalyaan Mission 2 Mean For ISRO And Space Science?
The exploration of Mars via Mangalyaan 2 will provide opportunities for groundbreaking scientific discoveries. It will help answer questions about our solar system’s history and our place in the vast Universe. This endeavor would also be of profound importance to India. It would testify to the country’s capabilities in advancing space exploration.
Wait For Mangalyaan Mission 2
The anticipation is growing for Mangalyaan Mission 2. The mission’s announcement has ignited excitement and curiosity within India and the global space community. It promises to deliver even more valuable scientific insights with improved instruments and technology and cement India’s reputation as a key player in the exploration of Mars. Let’s wish for the best for the Mars orbiter mission 2, ISRO’s next giant leap in Martian exploration.
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- Was Mangalyaan 1 a success or failure?
The India Mars mission Mangalyaan 1 was unequivocally a success. It reached Mars’ orbit on its first attempt in 2013. It surpassed its objectives and lasted seven years – far beyond its expected mission lifespan of 6 months and made insightful discoveries about the red planet.
- Will Mangalyaan 2 land on Mars?
As confirmed by ISRO, Mangalyaan 2 will be an orbiter-type spacecraft. It will not land on Mars but will circle Mars in an elliptical orbit.