India’s MOM enters Mars space

25 Sep

3 days after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft went into orbit around Mars it had some company as India’s MOM (Mars orbiter mission) satellite also took orbit around the red planet. Being the first attempt at sending a spacecraft to Mars the news of the satellite taking orbit was the cause of much fanfare across the the nation. This marked the first time that any country, including the United States, has been successful on their first attempt such a mission.

The odds were stacked against us. About 51 Mars missions were launched globally. Only 21 have succeeded. But we have prevailed,” India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the center. “The success of our space program is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation. Modern India must continue to be a world guru.”

The Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) launched the MOM spacecraft on November 5, 2013, 2 weeks before NASA’s MAVEN launch, from the Satish Dhawna Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. From there the craft went on its 10 and a half month journey to the red planet. With that journey complete it will now begin its 300 day mission to take photos, gather information and transmit it back to the ISRO. To carry out its mission the MOM spacecraft is equipped with the Lyman-Alpha Photometer, Thermal Infared ImagingSpectrometer, Tri-color cameramethane sensors and Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser.

“NASA looks forward to the successful launch of this exciting mission and the data that it is intended to provide on the Martian atmosphere,” said Michael Braukas, a NASA spokesman. “It’s probably going to complement our research.”

Compared to today’s high price tag for any space mission India’s MOM spacecraft was relatively inexpensive a only $72 million dollars. This is almost one tenth the price of NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft that cost $670 million. Part of the difference is price tag though is due to the more complexity to the MAVEN project including over double, 9 compared to 5, the amount of analyzing tools.

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