This past Tuesday, India’s space exploration program, the Mars Orbiter Mission, was given an additional six months to explore the planet more thoroughly, from the atmosphere to its surface. One of the senior officials on the project said there is no danger in extending the mission as their spacecraft has more than plenty of fuel, more than was initially thought the minimum. The shuttle has remained in Mar’s orbit for six months and is about to spend another six.
India is the proud pioneer of Mars orbiting nations. On September 24, 2014, after the grueling travels through the cosmos did the voyage reach its destination, making India the first country to orbit Mar’s atmosphere. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, joined his nation’s space agency’s team at their center on that monumental day. India is also the first Asian nation to reach Mar’s center of gravity since China’s expedition in 2011 was unsuccessful.
The zealous expedition began with the launch on November 5, 2013. The rocket departed from a space center in Sriharikota, adjacent to the Bay of Bengal.
The director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Devi Prasad Karnik, explained that they stowed five instruments on board the shuttle that will gather and deliver information to their research facilities here where their teams will analyze them round the clock. The most beneficial instrument on board, according to the analysts, has been the Mars Colour Camera (MCC). The device has taken plenty of splendid images of the planet’s terrain and atmosphere. The photos are available for public eyes on the ISRO website, as well as their Facebook page.
Along with the MCC, the tools the space crew utilize during the mission include: the Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), and Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP). Those four tools examine the mineral deposits and methane atmosphere in hopes of determining if Mars is capable of supporting life.
MSM traces back the gases in the Martian atmosphere to their source by following the particles per billion (PPB). LAP analyzes the composition of Mar’s upper atmosphere, measuring hydrogen-to-deuterium isotope ratios. MENCA and TIS both monitor Mar’s temperature and the types of minerals that the red planet’s surface is composed of.
Karnik explained that they’re looking for methane on Mars as it once meant that the red planet possessed the potential to sustain life. If the team manage to isolate current methane clouds in the atmosphere, then can they ascertain its biological and geological origins. TIS is scouring the planet, trying to determine what the source of the methane is. The hope is that it’s a geological byproduct of the planet’s internal processes.
Given how much has been delivered to the Indian control centre so far, the scientists working the controls and monitoring of the instruments tirelessly keep the spacecraft in check. Karnik assured reporters that all aspects of the mission, the functions and other routine operations, remain intact.
The already phenomenal success of India’s Mars mission has given and will continue to bestow the scientific community more information with the addition of six months time to graph Mars planetary traits. With the ISRO joining the ranks of international space agencies working to investigate Mar’s ability to sustain life, along with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA), knowledge will continue to spring forth.
By Matthew Austin Bowers