With a dead battery and no fuel, India’s ‘Mangalyaan’ mission is coming to an end
India’s Mars Orbiter has run out of fuel and its battery has discharged beyond a safe limit, fueling speculation that the country’s first interplanetary mission ‘Mangalyaan’ may have finally completed its long shifts. The Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission was launched aboard PSLV-C25 on 5 November 2013 and the MOM spacecraft was successfully inserted into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, in its maiden attempt.
“There is no fuel left right now. The satellite’s battery is dead,” Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) sources told PTI. “The link is lost.”
However, there has been no official word from the country’s national space agency, which is based here.
With the fuel on board, ISRO has in the past performed orbital maneuvers on the MOM spacecraft to get it into a new orbit to avoid an impending eclipse.
“But recently there have been back-to-back eclipses, including one that lasted seven and a half hours,” the officials said on condition of anonymity, noting that all the propellant aboard the aging satellite had been used up.
“Since the satellite battery is designed to handle an eclipse duration of only about one hour and 40 minutes, a longer eclipse would drain the battery beyond a safe limit,” another official said.
ISRO officials noted that the Mars orbiter operated for nearly eight years, much longer than the planned mission life of six months.
“He did his job and produced significant scientific results,” they said.
Mission objectives were primarily technological and included the design, implementation and launch of a Mars Orbiter capable of operating with sufficient autonomy during the journey phase; Insertion / Capture in Mars Orbit and Phases in Mars Orbit
A recent image of the mysterious moon of Mars, Phobos, as captured by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission
MOM – a Technology Demonstrator – carried five science payloads (totaling 15 kg) collecting data on surface geology, morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature, and the atmospheric escape process.
The five instruments are: Mars Color Camera (MCC), Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA) and Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP).
“MOM is credited with many laurels such as cost-effectiveness, short lead time, economical bulk budget and miniaturization of five heterogeneous science payloads,” ISRO officials pointed out.
MOM’s highly elliptical orbital geometry allowed MCC to take images of the “full disk” of Mars at its farthest point and finer details from its closest point.
MCC has produced more than 1,000 images and published an atlas of Mars.
Meanwhile, however, plans for a follow-up mission to the red planet “Mangalyaan” are yet to be confirmed.
ISRO came up with an “Notice of Opportunity” (AO) for the future Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM-2) in 2016, but officials acknowledged that it is still on the drawing board with the upcoming
Projects ‘Gaganyaan’, ‘Chandrayaan-3’ and ‘Aditya – L1’ are on the space agency’s current priority list.
The AO said, “Another Mars Orbiter mission is now being planned for a future launch opportunity. Proposals for experiments on board the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM-2) are invited from interested scientists in India to address relevant scientific issues and topics.”
“It is not on the approved list now,” a senior ISRO official told PTI when asked about the MOM-2 update.
“We need to formulate project proposals and payloads based on broader consultation with the research community,” the official said. “It’s still on the drawing board. But it needs some more details and international cooperation to complete the mission.”