The Mangalyaan mission, also known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), completed five years of orbiting Mars on September 24, Tuesday. The mission which was initially planned just for six months, helping the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to prepare a Martian Atlas based on the images it provided, completed five years successfully and is likely to continue for some more time. On completion of five years, ISRO chief K Sivan said, "It's working and continuously sending pictures. It still has some time to go."
Until now, the Mars orbiter has sent more than thousands of pictures which sums up to a total of two terabytes. Close distance images of the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, were taken by the Mars Colour Camera. ISRO also stated that the MOM is the only artificial Martian satellite that could capture the full disc of Mars in one view frame and also continues to take images of the far side of Deimos. The MOM has also helped the space agency find that dust storms on the Martian can rise up to hundreds of kilometres. Mangalyaan, which is India's first endeavour to successfully cross the Earth's orbit, has been hailed across the world for being cheaper than the Hollywood movie 'Gravity' and even cheaper than NASA's Maven orbiter which is similar to India's Mars mission. The launch vehicle, spacecraft and ground segment cost Rs 450 crore. A. S. Kiran Kumar, former chief of ISRO said that parameter that limits the life of spacecraft is the availability of fuel and also said that the Mars orbiter could go on for another year. "We were able to perform all the steps without any hiccups, and we succeeded in reaching Mars orbit without extra fuel consumption. The insertion also went off very well, which helped save fuel," Kumar said.
Former ISRO scientific secretary, Krishna Murthy Y V N said that the precise location of the satellite by the ground station helped conserve fuel and also credited the mission management that helped extend the life of the MOM. Murthy also said that Cartosat-1, the first Indian remote sensing satellite capable of providing in-orbit stereo images was initially planned for three years but kept performing for 10 years. The Mars Orbiter Mission was launched on November 5, 2013 and it made ISRO the fourth space agency to reach Mars. It also made India the first Asian nation to reach the Martian orbit and the first nation in the world to do so on its maiden attempt.
(With PTI Inputs)