Written By Shraddha NS (Grade 10)
It was the year 2013, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was preparing to launch its first-ever interplanetary mission: Mangalyaan, also known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
The idea of exploring Mars had always fascinated scientists around the world, and India was determined to join the prestigious club of nations that had successfully reached the red planet. The mission’s primary objective was to demonstrate India’s technological capabilities in interplanetary space exploration and study Mars’ surface features, mineralogy, and atmosphere.
ISRO began the ambitious project by designing and building a compact, low-cost spacecraft weighing only 1,350 kilograms. It was a significant achievement considering the complex nature of interplanetary missions. The spacecraft was equipped with scientific instruments that would help gather valuable data about Mars.
On November 5, 2013, Mangalyaan was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. The entire nation held its breath as the rocket soared into the sky, carrying the dreams and aspirations of millions. The journey to Mars would cover a distance of over 400 million kilometers, and success was far from guaranteed.
However, the Indian scientists and engineers had meticulously planned the mission to overcome the challenges that lay ahead. They implemented a series of trajectory corrections and mid-course manoeuvres to ensure that the spacecraft followed the intended path and arrived at Mars. The mission was not only a test of scientific prowess but also a testament to India’s ability to execute complex space missions on a shoestring budget.
After a journey spanning over nine months, on September 24, 2014, Mangalyaan successfully entered Mars’ orbit. The achievement was historic, making India the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet and the first in the world to do so in its maiden attempt. The nation erupted in joy and pride as the news spread.
Mangalyaan’s instruments immediately went to work, collecting valuable data about Mars’ atmosphere, surface, and other aspects of the planet. The spacecraft’s payload included instruments such as a Mars Colour Camera (MCC) to capture high-resolution images, a Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) to study the mineral composition, and a Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) to analyze the presence of methane, a potential indicator of biological activity.
Over the following months and years, Mangalyaan continued to send back valuable data, significantly contributing to the global scientific community’s understanding of Mars. The mission not only accomplished its primary objectives but also outperformed expectations by operating well beyond its designated lifespan.
Moreover, Mangalyaan’s success has inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers in India, igniting a passion for space exploration and encouraging the pursuit of scientific excellence. It has served as a symbol of what determination and teamwork can accomplish.
To this day, Mangalyaan continues to orbit Mars, collecting data and providing valuable insights into the mysteries of the Red Planet. It stands as a shining example of India’s space success, a testament to the country’s indomitable spirit and its commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and exploration.
Featured Image Courtesy – India Today