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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Praying for the success of 'Mangalyaan' putting the Nation in higher orbit.

Mariner 4; Mariner 6; Mariner 7; Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander; Mariner 9; Mars 5; Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander; Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander; Mars Global Surveyor; Mars Pathfinder; Mars Odyssey; Mars Exploration Rover – Spirit; Mars Exploration Rover – Opportunity; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Phoenix Mars Lander; NASA's Curiosity…….

~ one need not be an expert to decipher … all Mars missions … and successful ones at that….. We sure want our ‘Mangalyaan’ to be part of this list…….

The official countdown for blast-off of the Indian orbiter, nicknamed "Mangalyaan", began at 06:08am on Sunday, coinciding with Deepavali,  the festival of lights. "The 56 hours and 30 minutes countdown, for the launch scheduled for November 5 started as per schedule at 06.08 AM. It is proceeding smoothly," a spokesman of the ISRO said.

Mars is the ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn. In Roman mythology,  Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Mars is no place for the faint-hearted. Arid, rocky, cold and apparently lifeless, the Red Planet offers few hospitalities. Yet, some of the nations with rocket-sending capabilities are ever eager to explore and ultimately step foot on the ultimate lonely planet destination. This is because like Earth, this fourth planet from the Sun has polar ice caps and clouds in its atmosphere, and more importantly there is perception of life on Mars.

In a grand day today, India is gearing up for its first ever space undertaking to the Red Planet. An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spacecraft that will examine the finer details of Mars in unprecedented detail, is set to be launched today  atop India’s highly reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from a seaside launch pad in Sriharikota. The new space initiative, dubbed the Mars Orbiter Mission, is the brainchild of ISRO.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often described as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is aterrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.  Its orbital period is 686.971 days.

Mangalyaan is a term most Indian science fiction fans will be familiar with, and now it’s getting out of the realm of fiction and about to become reality. Thanks to ISRO, India would join the US to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet.  Indian space research programme has come a long way since the launch of Aryabhata, named after the famous Indian astronomer in April 1975.  It was launched by a Soviet Kosmos-3M rocket from Kapustin Yar; years later on 7th June 1979, our first experimental remote sensing satellite built in India- Bhaskara 1 was launched.   Mangalyaan is more of - Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned lunar probe,  launched by ISRO in Oct 2008.   It was launched by PSLV-XL rocket, serial number C11 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.  

The present proud Mangalyaan is scheduled to lift off at 2:38 pm from Sriharikota, Andhrapradesh, closer to Chennai.  India would become  the fourth country or group of countries to reach the Red Planet, after the Soviet Union, United States and Europe. This is India's first Mars mission, and no country has been fully successful on its first try. More than half the world's attempts to reach Mars - 23 out of 40 missions - have failed, including missions by Japan in 1999 and China in 2011. An evolved version of India's domestically developed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, with extended rockets, will take Mangalyaan into an elliptical arc around the Earth. It is far off and would be a 300-day, 780 million-kilometre (485 million-mile) journey to orbit Mars and survey its geology and atmosphere. Mangalyaan will gather data to help determine how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the water that is believed to have once existed on Mars in large quantities. It will search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes on Earth that could also come from geological processes.

So we all wait with bated breathe to hear of the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan today. This project was perceived in Aug 2012 and estimated to be around 450 crores.  Mangalyaan's on-orbit mission life is between six and ten months. Mylswamy Annadurai is the Program Director and S.Arunan is the Project Director.  India's launch of a small unmanned satellite to Mars is being described as a giant leap for its space programme. More than 500 scientists from the ISRO have  worked round the clock on this mission.

The integration of the five scientific instruments was completed at ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, and the finished spacecraft was shipped to Sriharikotta on 2 October 2013 ~ We all look forward to a successful launch of the spaceship which will take over 10 months to reach its destination.

A section of the cynically  myopic Press is writing some garbage questioning its relevancy and its cost…. They are best neglected as the technological benefits for the Nation far outweigh and the Nation’s development is above everything else.  

Long live the Scientists and bring Glory to the Nation ….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

5th Nov. 2013.

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