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Mars is not a violent planet. Its familiar surface features like hills, valleys, highlands, plains, polar ice caps and a soothing surface temperature makes Mars a planet of attraction for the astronomers. Because of its red colour, Ancient Romans had named it by their God of War. Ancient Indians had named it 'Mangala' and this name has remained in many Indian languages. According to Hindu Mythology, Mars is the son of 'Prithvi', Mother Earth.

Ever since Galileo Galilei (Born: February 15, 1564, Pisa, Italy and Passed away:January 8, 1642, Arcetri, Florence, Italy) gazed at Mars with his telescope, the curiosity about the planet gave birth to many intriguing questions. To search for answers, the technology of telescopes started to develop. Man wasn't satisfied just by observing the planet from such a vast distance. After more than three centuries, humans sent spacecrafts to Mars to study its features in close proximity and thereby to answer the puzzling questions of whether life could evolve and sustain in Mars or whether Mars was a planet teeming with life way back in the distant past. Viability of microscopic life on Mars is also an important question.

The following data throws some light on a comparison between Earth and Mars.

Mars Earth
Diameter 4,220 miles 7,926 miles
Gravity 0.375 times of Earth 2.66 times of Mars
Day 24 hours 37 minutes 23 hours 56 minutes
Year 687 Earth Days 365.25 Days
Temp.(avg) Average -81 degrees F Average 57 degrees F
Moon 2 ( Phobos, Deimos) 1
Atmosphere mostly carbon dioxide some water vapor nitrogen, oxygen, argon, others
Tilt of Axis 25 degrees 23.5 degrees
Average Distance from Sun 142 million miles 93 million miles


The journey of Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) to the Red Planet began with the most successful launch vehicle, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C25) on 5th November 2013. However, the imagination of Mangalayan emanated just a day after the successful crashlanding of Chandrayan-I. After the success of Chandrayan-I mission, ISRO declared that a manned spacecraft would be sent to Mars but the mission was postponed to a later date. Thereafter, the then ISRO Chairman declared a mission to send an unmanned Satellite to Mars late in 2013. The target set forth by ISRO to successfully accomplish the mission within just 15 months with an estimated cost of Rs 450,00,00,000 is worthy to be highly respected.

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Today, India has set Herself apart as an example for all the Nations of the world that yes, She has been dilligent enough to prove that it is definitely possible to accomplish a Deep Space mission with such a small expenditure. India has established Herself among the top Nations of the world having the most advanced space technology. Though a minor fault had occured at the initial phases of the mission, ISRO's brilliant scientists came up with a quick and easy solution and then everything was set in order in accordance with the plan of the mission.

Nevertheless, ISRO has sent an un-manned spacecraft to orbit Mars with the main objectives of exploring the surface, the atmosphere and the space environment in the vicinity of Mars. It is a Cuboid shaped spacecraft weighing 1340 kilogram at launch. The skeletal structure has been built with special alloys and composites. In order to manitain the temperature limits within safe working conditions inside the spacecraft, a bright golden multi-layered insulation blanket has been used alongwith a host of many other materials. 3 solar panels projecting from one side of the spacecraft can produce about 800 Watt of electrical power. A 2.2 meter diameter dish-shaped antennae on the other side of the spacecraft has been used to facilitate radio communication between Earth and the satellite, and to measure the accurate distance of Earth from the satellite. A variety of Sun and star sensors and gyroscopes enable the precise orientitation of the spacecraft that are crucial at different phases of the mission. A microprocessor based control system formes the electronic brain to maintain as well as change the orientation of the spacecraft in orbit. It relies on the reaction wheels, 4 small rocket engines called thrusters and the main rocket engine known as the Liquid Apogee Motor(LAM). There are 5 instruments consisting of cameras and spectrometers weighing a total of 15 kilogram and acting as payloads.

The Color Camera is designed to take pictures of the surface of Mars and of the moons 'Phobos' and 'Deimos' to help in the study of Martian surface phenomenon. The Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer has been designed to identify minerals. The Methane Sensor for Mars is designed to measure methane content in the Martian atmosphere and to aid in the mapping of methane sources. Since methane is a product of biological as well as non-biological processes, detection and knowledge of the activity responsible for its origin is extremely vital. Lyman Alpha Photometer is designed to aid in understanding the processes responsible for loss of water from Martian atmosphere. Mars Exhospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA) is designed to sudy the environment of the space in the vicinity of Mars.

The data transmitted by the 2.2 meter diameter dish antennae by means of weak signals is to be received by the antennas of the Indian Deep Space Network at Bailalu near Bangaluru. The Indian Space Science Data Center (ISSDC) at Bailalu is supposed to receive, organize, process, systematically store and distribute the data. Other stations located around the world have joined hands with ISRO to receive and process the data sent by spacecraft antennae.According to ISRO, the dates for the most efficient launching of the spacecraft extend from 28 October 2013 to 19 November 2013 keeping in mind the shortest distance between Earth and Mars at the time of launch, the possibility of crashing of the spacecraft with space debris, asteriods or comets, the weather conditions at the time of launch etc. Calm and serene weather is extremely vital for precise launching because a tiny amount of turbulence in the air can cause the trajectory to shift drastically.

India's first Mars mission begins with the 25th Launch of the extremely succesful PSLV and the launch vehicle is designated as PSLV C25. The lauch has been scheduled to take place from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center,Sriharikota. 42 minutes after lift-off, the PSLV C25 places the MOM spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around the Earth. For the first time in the history of the space age, ship-borne ground station terminals spread over the Pacific Ocean is going to monitor the performance of PSLV in its 4th Stage and the seperation of MOM spacecraft in that stage. The MOM spacecraft completes its first orbit around the Earth with a minimum distance of 250 kilometers and a maximum distance of 23500 kilometers from the Earth's surface. The LAM is then repeatedly fired to shoot the spacecraft out of Earth's orbit in its 300 day long journey. The spacecraft escapes Earth's gravitaional influence beyond a distance of about 1 million kilometers and then its path is influenced mostly by the sun's gravity. It makes its entry within the region of gravitational influence of Mars at a distance of about half a million kilometer from Mars by September 2014. The LAM is fired again to slow it down and put it into an orbit around Mars. Observations begin at the start of its orbital path around Mars. Apart from the extreme challenges of a very narrow dead line and a short budget, there are other scientific obstacles to overcome such as harmful radiation during its journey through space, the wild fluctuations in temperature, reduction in power generation capability due to increasing distance from the Sun during the journey and the extra precautions for the propulsion system to enhance reliability. ISRO's brilliant scientists have diligently overcome these obstacles with expertise gained from past experience.

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The maximum communication delay time between Earth and Mars is about 40 to 45 minutes. Therefore, autonomous robots have been incorporated in the satellite to take appropriate actions to rectify problems on its own and to assess the health of the satellite.




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