India’s Mars Orbiter Creates History
India shines after Mars mission success
India made history when its maiden mission to Mars, the Mangalyaan, successfully entered Mars’ orbit completing 299 days of journey past the Earth’s orbit after traversing over 670 million kilometres.
This mission makes India the first country in Asia to reach Mars after China’s orbiter Yinghuo-1 failed in 2011 to cross the Earth’s orbit. Earlier in 1998, the Japanese mission to Mars ran out of fuel and was lost. Both Russia and USA failed in their maiden mission to Mars.
A Global Achievement
India, being last in the list to undertake a Mars mission, could also become the first country in the world to reach Mars on its own steam in the first attempt. This is an achievement to be proud of as the collective sentiments were reflected in our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s words:
"The success of our space programme is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation. Our space programme has been an example of achievement."
What our Mars Mission wishes to achieve?
In light of an ever-growing curiosity about Mars in the global community, India launched an indigenously made unmanned robotic mission weighing 1,350 kg (weight of a small car) from the shores of Bay of Bengal in Sriharikota on 5 November last year.
The objective of this mission is to conduct modest yet meaningful exploration of the Mars’ surface, atmosphere and its space vicinity. The main objective is to find the presence of methane gas in Mars’ atmosphere and to detect its origin. Because methane is produced as a product of biological and non-biological activities, detecting and discovering its roots can be the first step towards proving life on the planet.
The Mars orbiter has five payloads (scientific instruments) which collectively weigh 15 kg. These instruments are the ones which will collect ground information about Mars and will relay the information from its disc-shaped antenna to antennas in the data collecting centres in India. The five payloads are as follows:
Mars Colour Camera: This will be used for taking coloured pictures of Mars’ surface and its two natural satellites which helps to study the Martian phenomenon.
Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer: This helps in identifying the minerals present on Mars’ surface.
Lyman Alpha Photometer: This helps in understanding the process responsible for the loss of water from the Martian atmosphere.
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser: This will study the space environment around Mars.
Methane Sensor: This instrument will be used for accurately measuring methane in the atmosphere and the source of its origin.
Was it worth investing Rs 4.5 billion?
The mission costed 4.5 billion rupees, the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken by the world.
Many criticise the fact that India should have spent the money in its development programmes and uplifting poverty. In a country where mindless money is put behind building lifeless statues and mindless movies, such an undertaking such as the Mars mission can make pathbreaking discoveries which can change the face of humanity forever.
A relatively modest budget and only one year to develop a self-sustaining ambitious orbiter in the unknown spheres is a great showcase of our country’s technological prowess when the other developed nations had failed with more money, time and technology at their disposal.
The good days have just begun. Wait till our mission comes out with more interesting facts which were unknown to the world. Let us hope for the best.
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