Tweets From Space: 5 Things You Should Know About India”s Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted on September 25, 2014 in Specials

By Mayank Jain:

Radio taxi fare: Rs. 18/Km

Auto rickshaw fare: Rs. 14/Km

Taxi fare: Rs. 12/Km

India’s Mars Orbiter: Rs. 5.77/Km

That’s the sum total of India’s space mission: cheap, efficient and illustrious. Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has entered the Martian orbit after being launched from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh by PSLV C25 rocket/carrier on November 5th, 2013.

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission

After a long journey spanning 11 months and multiple maneuvers that re-launched the orbiter from earth’s sphere of influence into the Mars’ orbit, it has finally reached the position where it will begin operating and fulfilling the mission objectives. The major objective is to look for traces of methane in the atmosphere of Mars as has been detected by signals on Earth, but NASA’s Mars rover hasn’t been able to find any clue of the same so far. However, with India’s mission in place along with NASA’s MAVEN, hopes of a breakthrough have rejuvenated.

Here are the five things that you must know about India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, affectionately referred to as MOM by our PM:

1. Jugaad’ Innovation: They say that necessity is the mother of invention and similarly, deficiency fuels creativity. We are known for the ability to innovate and offer goods at cheaper prices while maintaining the quality; ISRO has thus added itself to the list which includes Micromax, Lava and similar enterprises. ISRO being an undervalued but over performing entity in the country’s balance sheet, set out to achieve another feat through this mission. It is India’s first interplanetary mission on a shoe string budget, but precision, right from the beginning made it happen. The project was approved by the government of India on 3rd August 2012 and costs Rs. 450 crores, much less than what it took Hollywood to make ‘Gravity’, a movie based on space missions and astronauts. The budget of the movie was almost $100 million.

2. Looking for Methane: The 1350 kilogram weighted lift off was launched from India is loaded up with analyzers, imaging devices and scientific instruments which will gaze into the planet and its surroundings to give back reports of the presence of methane. Apart from technological leaps like developing prowess to manage space missions, it will give India a peek into Mars’ structural and atmospherically relevant history. The traces of gases detected in and around the atmosphere will prove useful in the study of the universe as a whole as well.

3. Successful at the First Attempt: According to NASA, out of the 57 missions to the red planet by different countries, only 21 have been successful. India is only next to Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency to send a successful mission to the planet. However, we are the first ones to do it in the first attempt. As explained by a Reddit user, putting it into the orbit in the first attempt is like hitting a grain of dust particle from across the world to a hole on the other end.

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4. Only 4 Rupees Per Person: A lot of criticism about the mission stems from the fact that it did incur hundreds of crores and the amount could be utilized for public welfare in a country with 400 million people living in poverty. However, the cost of Mars Mission comes out to be just around Rs. 4 per person which is essentially 10% of a day’s poverty threshold for the country. The cost in fact is too low for such an ambitious and successful (so far) exploration which holds multiple prospects for welfare at large.

5. Tweeting From Space: The Mars Orbiter also joined Twitter and interesting conversations ensued once it started sending tweets from space. NASA’s own Curosity Rover sent a greeting in Hindi to welcome it around and asked to keep in touch. The one of a kind exchange became a spectacle on social media and made sci-fi fantasies of talking rovers come true for a while.

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