India’s Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM): Mangalyaan

Mangalyaan mission is also called MOM (Mars orbiter mission). It is a space probe orbiting around Mars. Space probe means it is robotic spacecraft which does not orbit the earth. however, rather investigates further into space. It may approach the moon travel through interplanetary space fly by, orbit or arrive on another planetary body or enter into interplanetary bodies or enter into interstellar space. It is the Indias first interplanetary mission, India is the fourth space agency to reach Mars and we can say India is the first Asian nation to reach the Mars orbit. we can observe the mangalyaan picture on 2000 rupee note which means it is the most prestigious mission for India. It is the low-cost mission to reach the Mars orbit as compared to other space agencies like NASA (MAVEN). ISRO took only 15 months to mangalyaan and lanching vehicle. Here ISRO uses the PSLV C25 launch vehicle. Initially, ISRO wanted to use the most powerful GSLV launch vehicle but because some failures PSLV (Polar satellite launch vehicle) is used which has been already proven that it is a successful launch vehicle.


Why ISRO decided to launch Mangalyaan in 2013 year-end?

Planets are orbiting the sun with different speeds .while orbiting planets are coming closure, in the same way, earth and mars are coming very closure on 24 September 2014. So, we can easily set up the Mangalyaan in to Mars orbit so that ISRO decides the launching date as 28 October 2013 that means the flight time of mangalyaan is almost 300 days,but for tracking the data from Mangalyaan is not possible for only one space centre so ISRO asks help from other countries space centres by establishing 32 ground stations but  when Mangalyaan reaches south pacific region data tracking has become impossible so ISRO set up  huge antennas on two ships in the sea but the waves were not supported to set up on the time so launching has postponed.

Mangalyaan lifted off from first lanching pad from Sathish Dhawan space centre using PSLV C25 at 9.08 UTC 2.30 pm IST on 5 November 2013.

Women behind Mangalyaan

Scientist Mounima Dutta was a project manager on MOM. And other members are Scientist Ritu Karidhal, Scientist Nandhini Harinath and Scientist Minal Rohit.

Objectives of Mangalyaan

The primary objective of the mission is to develop the technologies required for designing, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. 

The secondary objective of the mission is to explore mars, monitor the planet weather and take the colour 3D picture of the Mars surface, mineralogy, morphology (the study of the form of thing means structure or shape), the atmosphere on the Mars.

Mangalyaan is arranged in the fourth stage of the PSLV C25 launch vehicle. Mangalyaan (nothing but payload ) consists of

Mars color camera (MCC)
Mangalyaan- MCC (Mars color camera)
Mars Color Camera

This tri-colour Mars Color camera gives pictures and data about the surface feature and composition of the Martian surface. They are helpful to screen the dynamic events and climate of Mars. MCC will also be utilized for examining the two satellites of Mars – Phobos and Deimos. It can give 3D pictures of the mars so that we can also know that traces of water. It also gives context information to other science payloads.

Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)
Mangalyaan Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)
Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)

MSM is designed to measure CH4 in the martian atmosphere with PPB (parts for billion) Methane concentration in the Martian atmosphere undergoes spatial and temporal variations. why we need to measure methane concentration because it can interpret the existence of microorganisms.

Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)
Mangalyaan Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)
Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)

It is an absorption cell photometer. It measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen. It estimates the D/H ratio measurement of D/H ratio allows us to understand the loss process of water from the planet. Observations of coronal brightness indirectly reveal the density structure of H.

The objectives of this instrument are the estimation of D/H ratio, estimation of escape flux of H2 corona and generation of Hydrogen and deuterium coronal profiles.

Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA)
Mangalyaan Mars Exospheric neutral  Composition analyser
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA)

It is locally available Indian Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). It is Quadruple a Mass Spectrometer. Gives in-situ (appropriate positions) measurements of the neutral composition of the exosphere of Mars.

MENCA is capable of analysing the neutral composition in the range of 1 to 300 atomic mass unit with unit mass resolution.

Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS)
Mangalyaan Thermal infrared imaging spectrometer
Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS)

TIS is a plane reflection grating (unpleasant sound) based IR spectrometer with all refractive optical elements. TIS  measures the Thermal emission and it can be operated during both day and night. It is designed to detect emitted thermal infrared radiation from the martian environment. the scientific objectives of the TIS are the estimation of the ground temperature of the Mars surface, map its surface composition and detection and variability of aerosol/dust on the Martian atmosphere.

Flight of Mangalyaan


PSLV C25 has lunched from Sriharikota with carrying Mangalyaan in its fourth stage by boosting the strap ons after travelling some distance strap ons are separated and after travelling some distance payload fairing is separated and after travelling some distance Mangalyaan is separated by igniting the engines step by step process.

The most interesting point of Mangalyaan is how it reaches the Mars orbit. ISRO put a tremendous effort for Mangalyaan to reach the Mars orbit.

The orbiter’s dry mass is 500 kg and it carried 852 kg of fuel and oxidiser at launch. Its main engine, which is a derivative of the system used on India’s communications satellites, uses the bipropellant combination monomethylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide to accomplish the thrust which is necessary to gain velocity for escaping from Earth. It was also used to slow down the probe for Mars orbit insertion then for orbit corrections.

As we know ISRO decided to use PSLV which is less powerful compared to GSLV.Since the PSLV is not that much powerful enough to place MOM on a direct to Mars trajectory the spacecraft was launched in to highly elliptical earth orbit and uses its own thrusters over multiple perigees (the point in the orbit of a satellite at which it is nearest to earth)burns to place itself on a trans mars trajectory.

Mars Orbiter mission orbiting around earth and mars

Orbit raising operations are conducted from the SCC (spacecraft control centre) at the ISRO telemetry, tracking and command network (ISTRAC) at peenya, Bengalure.

A series of perigee burns by using spacecraft on the board propulsion system.

Totally 5 orbits are done around the Earth. Out of 5 three orbits raising manoeuvres are com[pleted normally but for the fourth orbit-raising is partially successful means it is done as they expected. To reach fourth orbit-raising subsequent supplementary manoeuvre is raising by giving sufficient altitude to reach the fourth orbit so six burns were completed and the seventh burn is conducted to insert the MOM into a heliocentric orbit(hyperbolic trajectory) for transfer to Mars orbit means MOM escapes from earth gravity and leaps into solar orbit.

Trans mars injection is done on 30 November 2013 a 23-minute engine firing has initiated the transfer of MOM away from the earth orbit, engine off then it catches the hyperbolic trajectory towards to the Mars.MOM takes almost 300 days to travel in the hyperbolic trajectory.

Spacecraft arrives at Mars in a hyperbolic trajectory and then enter into the sphere of influence of Mars on 22 September 2014, Antena change over to medium gain antenna. MOM reaches Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, the forward rotation starts about 21 minutes here eclipse started about 5 minutes (Sun-Mars-MOM).so solar panels are working for the production of energy, Altitude is controlled with thrusters then liquid engine burning is started for orbiting. Now, MOM enters into the Mars occultation (An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer ). That means MOM is hidden by Mars which can not be tracked by telemetry so telemetry becomes switched off. Eclipse ends, liquid engine burn ends .now, by this time MOM is in Mars orbit with high speed, to reduce speed reverse manoeuvre is initiated and then occult ends telemetry is resumed and then reverse manoeuvre ends and then MOM starts orbiting normally. Then it will undergo the work to reach its achievements.

Movie Misson Mangal is based on the succesful launch of Mangalyaan.

Images courtesy: ISRO