Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why not everyone is happy with Mangalyaan

This year’s Diwali lights got more brilliant, when news of the Mangalyaan’s successful launch reached the nation yesterday. Magalyaan, or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was made in fifteen months for a cost of 450 crores. That’s just about the box office collection of Chennai Express, this year’s another spectacular release. ISRO, the Indian space agency got due congratulations.
Mangalyaan will circle around earth till this month end. On December 1, it leaves for the Mars. It will reach near to Mars in September 14. Thereafter, it will circle around Mars to collect important information.
Not everybody is happy though. There are some serious issues that are being raised about this mission, since last August 15 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the declaration. Lets look at some criticism that is being made -
1. The mission is scientifically not significant: ISRO has used a small rocket to launch the vehicle to Mars. The larger rocket called GSLV is not yet ready. Due to this, the actual scientific equipment that the vehicle is carrying is limited to 25 Kg, barely enough for serious observation.
2. India has hurried this launch to beat China: China has beaten India in most of the earlier achievements in space. But China’s own Mars mission failed in 2011, giving India the chance to get ahead. This is the reason for the hurried program.
3. It’s not doing anything new: Six nations have so far sent similar missions and NASA has two vehicles (called Rovers) crawling on the Mars surface. So we will be just repeating what has been already done.
No matter what you think about these points, for ISRO it will be a great accomplishment. It will be doing two things it has never done before:
1. On December 1, 2013, Mangalyaan will leave the earth’s orbit and leave for Mars. ISRO’s vehicles have never left earth’s orbit before.
2. In Sept 14, when it enters Mars orbit, it will have to be slowed down, otherwise it will escape into space. To control the vehicle after 300 days of journey will be a challenge ISRO has never handled.
With bated breath, let’s wait for December 1. Its a difficult phase for any Mars mission. 30 out of 51 Mars bound spacecrafts have so far failed in this phase. Best wishes, ISRO!

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