Emily LakdawallaApr 01, 2013

ISRO's Mars mission now undergoing assembly and testing; NASA, ISRO agree to future space science cooperation

India's Mars Orbiter Mission (which I refuse to shorten to "MOM") has been much in the news in Asian media over the last week as a result of the release of ISRO's Annual Report 2012-2013 (PDF). The 130-page report concerns all of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s activities; the Mars Orbiter Mission is discussed within the Space Sciences section, beginning on page 68. I am posting below the entire content of the section concerning the Mars mission. The images are of poor quality, but there's nothing I can do about that; it's how they appeared in the PDF.

Before I do that, though, I'll mention that ISRO and NASA issued a joint statement from Washington a week ago endorsing interagency cooperation in the space sciences, to wit: "Building on NASA’s collaboration in India’s highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008, NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars. To this end the CSJWG agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Heliophysics to identify areas of potential cooperation." Also worth mentioning is that American astronaut Sunita Williams is touring India this week, touting space exploration and encouraging India's forays into the solar system.

Government of India Department of Space Annual Report

Space Sciences

Mars Orbiter Mission

Mars Orbiter Mission is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars with a spacecraft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit of 372 km by 80,000 km. Mars Orbiter mission is India’s next challenging technological mission out of the Earth’s gravitational field. The major demands will be critical mission operations and stringent requirements on propulsion, communications and other bus systems of the spacecraft. The primary driving technological objective of the mission is to design and realize a spacecraft with a capability to reach Mars (Martian transfer Trajectory), then to orbit around Mars (Mars Orbit Insertion) which will take about nine months time. Yet another technological challenge is to realize related deep space mission planning and communication management at a distance of nearly 400 million km. The polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV will be used to inject the spacecraft from SDSC, [Sriharikota] in the 250 X 23000 km orbit with an inclination of 17.864 degree. As the minimum energy transfer opportunity from Earth to Mars occurs once in 26 months, the opportunity in 2013 demands a cumulative incremental velocity of 2.592 km/sec.

Mars Orbiter Mission: profile
Mars Orbiter Mission: profile Image: ISRO

This satellite will also carry compact science experiments, totaling a mass of 15 kg, as listed in the table below which has been reviewed and selected by Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS).

PayloadPrimary Objective
Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)Escape processes of Mars upper atmosphere through Deuterium/Hydrogen
Methane Sensor for MARS (MSM)Detect presence of Methane
Martian Exospheric Composition Explorer (MENCA)Study the neutral composition of the Martian upper atmosphere
MARS Colour Camera (MCC)Optical imaging
TIR imaging spectrometer (TIS)Map surface composition and mineralogy

The deployed view of the spacecraft configuration indicating the scientific payloads is shown below.

Mars Orbiter Mission: payload
Mars Orbiter Mission: payload Image: ISRO


Preliminary Design Reviews of all the spacecraft systems and payloads have been completed. The structure has been delivered to clean room and the propulsion system integration is in the final stage. All payloads are in the advanced stage of development and expected to be delivered for Integration by March/April 2013. The ground segment elements at Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu and S- band sea-borne terminals are getting geared up for the mission.

That's it. The Report also contains updates on Chandrayaan-2 and on the development status of their GSLV, a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

Finally, here's a nice photo of a model of the spacecraft that was displayed at the 100th Indian Science Congress in January, which was the last time I wrote an update on the mission:

Model of India's Mars orbiter mission
Model of India's Mars orbiter mission Image: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury via <em>The Hindu</em>

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