Mangalyaan closing in on Mars
India`s first interplanetary spacecraft 'Mars Orbiter Mission' or 'Mangalyaan' has completed 80 percent of its journey successfully. If everything goes as planned, the spacecraft is expected to be placed in the Martian orbit on 24th September 2014.
- It has successfully covered about 531 million km out of total distance of 680 million km.
- It was launched on November 05, 2013 aboard PSLV-C25 from Sriharikota.
- More than half of all 40 Mars missions launched globally, beginning in 1960, have failed.
- No nation has ever succeeded in its maiden Mars mission apart from European Space Agency's Mars Express representing 20 countries.
Asian Mars missions
- Japan (1998) and China (2011) are the other two Asian countries engaged in the similar effort but they so far have not achieved any success.
- If successful, ISRO will become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and European Space Agency.
- There are people who have questioned the huge cost (about 450 cr) and the relevance of the mission stating that Its too ambitious and expensive for a country plagued by stark poverty and deprivation.
- India has defended the expense on the space programme by citing that the cost is only a fraction of what other Mars missions have cost.
- The government also highlights the importance of providing high-tech jobs for scientists and engineers and practical applications in solving problems and challenges on ground.
- Such missions develop satellite, communications and remote sensing technologies that are helpful in solving everyday problems like; forecasting where fish can be caught by fishermen to predicting cataclysmic storms and floods.
- It is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
- Its to explore Mars' surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
Mars Fact File
- Mars is named after the Roman god of war
- One Martian year equals 687 Earth days
- Maximum distance of Mars from Earth is 378 million km
- Lowest temperature: -100C
- Highest temperature: 0C
- Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos