Mangalyaan runs out of fuel after eight years: Know what's next for India's Mars Orbiter mission

mangalyaan runs out of fuel after eight years: know what's next for india's mars orbiter mission

Mangalyaan runs out of fuel after eight years: Know what's next for India's Mars Orbiter mission

It has been reported that India’s first interplanetary mission, “Mangalyaan,” may have finally ended its long run when it’s Mars Orbiter spacecraft ran out of fuel and its battery discharged past the safe limit.

The PSLV-C25 rocket carrying the Rs. 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission lifted out on November 5, 2013, and on September 24, 2014, the MOM spacecraft successfully placed itself into Martian orbit.

“Right now, there is no fuel left. The satellite battery has drained,” PTI was informed by sources within the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

However, there was no official statement from the national space agency.

In the past, ISRO had been undertaking orbital manoeuvres on the MOM spacecraft with fuel on board to move it to a new orbit to avoid an impending eclipse.

On condition of anonymity, officials stated: “But recently there were back-to-back eclipses including one that lasted seven-and-half hours.” They added that all the fuel on board the ageing satellite had been used.

“As the satellite battery is designed to handle eclipse duration of only about one hour and 40 minutes, a longer eclipse would drain the battery beyond the safe limit,” another official stated.

According to ISRO authorities, the Mars orbiter vehicle operated much over its intended mission life of six months, lasting almost eight years.

They said that “It has done its job and yielded significant scientific results.” The mission’s primary technological design included the design, realisation and launching of a Mars Orbiter spacecraft that could circle Mars with enough autonomy during the voyage phase, orbit insertion and capture, and in-orbit phase.

A technology demonstration project, the MOM carried five scientific payloads weighing a combined 15 kg that collected data on surface geology, morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature, and air escape mechanism.

The five instruments are the Lyman Alpha Photometer, Mars Color Camera (MCC), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA), Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS), and Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) (LAP).

According to ISRO authorities, “MOM is credited with many laurels like cost-effectiveness, a short period of realisation, economical mass-budget, and miniaturisation of five heterogeneous science payloads.”

MCC was able to take pictures of Mars’ “Full disc” at its farthest point and more minute details at its closest location because to MOM’s very elliptical orbit shape.

The MCC has released a Mars Atlas and created more than 1000 photos.

Plans for a subsequent “Mangalyaan” expedition to the red planet, however, have not yet been finalised.

In 2016, ISRO released an “Announcement of Opportunity” (AO) for the future Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM-2); however, authorities admitted that it is still in the planning stages as the space agency is now focused on the Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan-3, and Aditya – L1 programmes.

The AO stated: “It is now planned to have the next orbiter mission around Mars for a future launch opportunity. Proposals are solicited from interested scientists within India for experiments onboard an orbiter mission around Mars (MOM-2), to address relevant scientific problems and topics.” Not on the approved list as of now; when asked for an update on the MOM-2, a senior ISRO official responded.

The official stated, “We need to formulate the project proposals and payloads based on the wider consultation with the research community.” It’s still in the conceptual stage. But for the mission to be completed, further information and international cooperation are required.

(With inputs from PTI)

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