India’s Mars Orbiter has run out of fuel and its battery has run out beyond safe limits, fueling speculation that the country’s first interplanetary mission “Mangalyaan” may finally be ending its long roles.
The Rs 450 Crore Mars Orbiter mission was launched on 5 November 2013 aboard PSLV-C25 and the MOM spacecraft was successfully launched into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014 on its first attempt.
Sources at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) told PTI: “There is no fuel now. The satellite battery has run out. “disconnected”.
However, there is no official word from the country’s national space agency, which is based here.
With fuel on board, ISRO has in the past conducted its orbital maneuvers to steer the MOM spacecraft into a new orbit to avoid an imminent eclipse.
“But recently, there have been frequent eclipses, including one that lasted seven and a half hours,” said the officials, who asked not to be identified, noting that all the motives on the old satellite had been used up.
Another official said, “The satellite’s battery is designed to withstand an eclipse of only 1 hour and 40 minutes, and a longer eclipse will drain the battery well beyond the safe range.”
ISRO officials have noted that the Mars Orbiter has been operating for nearly eight years, well past its designed six-month duration.
“It has done its job and achieved important scientific results,” they said. Mission objectives primarily include the design, completion and launch of a Mars orbiter capable of operating with sufficient autonomy in the technology and cruise phase; Orbital insertion/capture of Mars and phase in orbit around Mars.
MOM – a technical demonstration effort – carried five science payloads (totaling 15 kg) that collected data on surface geology, morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature and atmospheric escape process.
The five instruments are: Mars Color Camera (MCC), Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (DIS), Mars Methane Sensor (MSM), Mars Extra Atmospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA) and Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAB).
ISRO officials noted that AMMA is proud of several awards such as “cost-effectiveness, short-term realization, collective economic budgeting, and the miniaturization of five multi-use science payloads”.
MOM’s highly elliptical orbital geometry enabled the Engine Control Center to capture snapshots of the “full disk” of Mars at its farthest point, and fine detail at very close range.
MCC has produced over 1,000 images and published an atlas of Mars.
Meanwhile, plans for the “Mangalyaan” mission to the red planet have yet to be confirmed.
ISRO issued a “Notice of Opportunity” (AO) for the future Mars Orbiter (MOM-2) mission in 2016, but officials acknowledged that “Kaganyan”, “Chandrayaan-3” and “remain on the map”. Aditya-L1 projects are on the space agency’s current priority list.
AO said: “The next orbital mission around Mars is now planned for a future launch opportunity. Proposals have been invited from interested scientists in India to conduct experiments on the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM-2) to address relevant scientific research issues and topics. “It is not currently on the approved list,” a senior ISRO official told PTI when asked about the update on the MOM-2.
“We have to develop project and payload proposals based on broad consultations with the research community,” the official said. It’s still on the drawing board. But completing the work requires more detail and international cooperation.”
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