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Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – Mission Objective & Payloads

Since I wrote a blog post about albedo map of mars, I thought it would be a good idea to write briefly about the mission objectives and payloads of Mars Orbiter Mission. MOM was famously called as “Mangalyaan” was launched on 05-November-2013 as the first interplanetary mission from India. The mission is deemed success and it has been inserted and henceforth orbiting Mars since 24th of September 2014. It is being monitored from Spacecraft Control Center at ISTRAC in Bengaluru with considerable support from Indian Deep Space Network (ISDN) antennae located at Byalalu in Karnataka.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is primarily a technology demonstration mission for ISRO. It helped the ISRO team to design, plan, manage and operationalise the interplanetary mission.

The technology objectives (as defined by ISRO) are ::

  1. Design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.

  2. Deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.

  3. Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.

The scientific objective is to explore the mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.

To accomplish its technology and scientific objectives, MOM had five payloads as briefly mentioned below.

MOM Payloads (Source : ISRO)

Scientific instruments & their weight (Source : Wikipedia)LAPLyman-Alpha Photometer1.97 kg (4.3 lb)MSMMethane Sensor for Mars (defective)2.94 kg (6.5 lb)MENCAMars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser3.56 kg (7.8 lb)TISThermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer3.20 kg (7.1 lb)MCCMars Colour Camera1.27 kg (2.8 lb)

[1] Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)

As the name indicates, this payload is intended to capture Lyman-Alpha emission from the martian atmosphere thereby helping analyse the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen. Lyman Alpha Photometer is an absorption cell photometer which helps understand the loss process of water from the planet by measuring the Deuterium to Hydrogen (D/H) abundance ratio.

The objectives of this instrument (LAP) are as follows:

  1. Estimation of D/H ratio

  2. Estimation of escape flux of H2 corona

  3. Generation of Hydrogen and Deuterium coronal profiles

[2] Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)

Methane Sensor helps to identify methane (CH4) reserves in the martian atmosphere and henceforth map its sources. Data from the reflection of solar radiation from the illuminated side of Mars is captured and analysed for methane concentration based on the spatial and temporal variations. The variations are detected during each and every orbit to provide a near-accurate measurement of methane concentration.

[3] Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA)

MENCA is a quadruple mass spectrometer that helps analyse the neutral composition in the range of 1 to 300 amu with unit mass resolution. The heritage of this payload is from Chandra’s Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHANCE) payload aboard the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) in Chandrayan-1 mission.

[4] Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS)

Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer measures the thermal emission thereby estimating the temperature and emissivity of the martian surface. Based on the spectral analysis of TIS data, the surface composition and mineralogy of Mars can be obtained.

[5] Mars Color Camera (MCC)

The tri-color camera provides detailed images and hence an overall information about the martian surface and its composition. This also helps capture dynamic events and the nature of weather that prevails in martian surface. MCC will also capture visuals of Phobos and Deimos – the two satellites of Mars.

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