India over the moon with Mars success


24_modi_isro_reute_2122994gMars at last! Indeed, India’s maiden Mars mission has been a grand success as its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), named Mangalyaan, and entered the Martian orbit on the morning of September 24.

Heralding this epoch making event in Bengaluru, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “India is the only country, to have succeeded in its very first attempt.”

Further complimenting the team of scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he commented, “I congratulate, all ISRO scientists, as well as, all my fellow Indians, on this historic occasion.”

With this hallmark in the annals of Space Odyssey, India now joins an elite club of Mars explorers which includes the United States, European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union.

India is the first Asian country to successfully send an orbiter to Mars. While the success of this mission is a great achievement, the manner in which it was achieved adds to its glory. Indeed, a tribute to the dreams of doyens of Indian space scientists right from the days of Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and U R Rao among others.

With a minimal price tag of $75 million, this mission is being hailed for its prudent use of time, money and materials.

As for ISRO’s grand success, it may be recalled that a similar mission by NASA named Maven that entered Mars orbit on September 21, cost a whopping $671 million.

The Mangalyaan is India’s first interplanetary mission, and it was launched from the Sriharkota, aptly named in memory of Satish Dhawan, in Andhra Pradesh on November 5 last.

As for its trajectory insertion process, it began early morning on September 24 when the spacecraft switched over to the medium gain antenna for providing the communication link during this crucial juncture that was a perfect success.

Two days earlier, the engine, which had been static on board, for around 300 days, was ignited for 24 minutes by the scientists of ISRO to reduce its speed from 22.1 km per second to 4.4 km per second prior to the MOM entering the Martian’s gravitational sphere. They also rectified its navigational trajectory towards the targeted surface of Mars.

In this exercise the challenge for the ISRO scientists was to slow down the speed and direct the MoM using the 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor engines to enable it being captured by Mars’ orbit.

On its arrival to the sphere of Mars, NASA’s 2012 Mars mission Curiosity, ISRO’s Mars Orbiter and NASA’s 2014 Mars mission Maven have exchanged a number of tweets.

“Namaste, @MarsOrbiter! Congratulations to @ISRO and India’s first interplanetary mission upon achieving Mars orbit (sic),” tweeted Curiosity Rover.

Courteously Mangalayaan replied, ‘Howdy @MarsCuriosity? Keep in touch. I’ll be around.”

No wonder, bonhomie between India and the US seems to be lively at least in the space ahead of India’s Prime Minister’s visit to Washington.