Read more:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mangalyaan - Four Year of Successful Operation in Mars Orbit

Mangalyaan- Mars Orbiter Mission
Four Year Completion of Successful Operation in Mars Orbit
Download this full article in PDF
Congratulations to ISRO for Successful Operation in Mars Orbit (Mangalyaan)


     Mangalyaan is the first interplanetary mission of India to explore space beyond Earth and Moon system. India and its Mangalyaan (Mars Craft) is the world's first spacecraft to achieve success in its first attempt whereas NASA got victory in second attempt, ESA got partial success in first attempt and Russia got no success out of 19 attempts. After its successful orbital insertion, India became fourth nation to reach Mars after Russia, America and Europe. India places the first nation among Asian continent to reach Mars. After this successful victory China referred India's Mangalyaan "Pride of Asia". This article explains a brief journey of India to the Red planet and their major challenge. This article is specially dedicated to Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) in memory of four year completion of successful operation in Mars orbit from 24 September 2014 to 24 September 2018.

  • Exploration of Mars around Four years in operation around Mars
  • Major challenges and attempts made behind Mangalyaan to maintain active state
  • Achievement and Honor of Mars Orbiter Mission
  • Future vision of ISRO and India towards Mars and Interplanetary Mission
Mission Overview:

     Mangalyaan is an active spacecraft orbiting and investigating Mars since 24-Sep-2014. India became the fourth nation to reach Mars after the successful launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) on 05 November 2013. MOM was launched from first launch pad Satish Dhawan Space Center located near Sriharikotta range in Andhra Pradesh. It was placed in orbit during October-2013 launch window.
     MOM is a "Technology demonstrator probe" intended for future advancement of design and planning for interplanetary mission. It carried five instruments for surface topography studies. This spacecraft is being monitored by (ISTRAC) ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network located at Bangalore with aid from India Deep Space Network antenna and additional support from NASA Deep Space Network.

History and Origin of Spacecraft:

     India have been interestingly taking part in space exploration since 1970s. Its first science mission was Chandrayaan-1 mission to the Moon in October 2008 which ultimately created history by finding water on the Lunar Surface. After the successful achievement of Chandrayaan, India's vision towards Mars was first publicly announced on 23 November 2008 by ISRO's chairman Dr. Madhavan Nair. Following the announcement design and feasibility begin in 2010 by Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Trivandrum. Prime minister of India Dr.Manmohan Singh approved the Mangalyaan project and accepted for funding for whole mission design and study. Based on the economic prospect, ISRO completed the whole mission within 450 crore approximately.

     On 05 August 2013, assembly of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL or PSLV-C25). After the completion of spacecraft designs, it was shipped to Sriharikotta SHAR for the integration with PSLV launch vehicle. The design and integration was completed within 15 months of record. Following this NASA approved to provide communication support from NASA Deep space network during black out phase on 05 October 2013. After this stage, MOM set to fly into cosmos on 05 November 2013 setting proud to the Indian nation and inspiring  millions of space enthusiastic students.


     Mangalyaan was officially scheduled to launch in 28th October 2013. But, the launch was postponed to 05th November 2013 due to the delay in ISRO's spacecraft tracking ships to take positions in the Pacific Ocean. This happened due to the bad weather in Ocean. Finally, MOM was lifted-off from Satish Dhawan Space Center at SHAR range on 05 November 2013 at 09:08 UTC. It was aimed to launch with Geosynchronous Satellite Launch vehicle, but due to continuous failure of two launches in 2010, it was switched to launch by PSLV.

Launch Challenges:

     PSLV-XL opted for launch is not powerful enough to place Mangalyaan in trans-Mars trajectory. Despite this concerns, ISRO placed MOM in high elliptical orbit around Earth and used its powerful thrusters over multiple perigee burns to place itself on a trans-Mars trajectory towards Mars. After the successful launch antenna and solar panels were successfully deployed for continuous active communication between Earth and ISRO command center. Following this operation, progressive checking of spacecraft system were also succeeded.

Trans-Mars Injection and Mars Orbital Insertion:

       After seven orbital raising maneuver burns, Mangalyaan was finally placed in Trans-Mars injection on 30 November 2013 at 19:19 UTC.After that a 23-minute engine firing was initiated to move MOM away from earth towards Mars. After travelling 780,000,000 kilometers of distance, it was successfully inserted into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014 at 02:11:46 UTC.During the travel four trajectory correction were made to correct path.

Spacecraft Design:

     The spacecraft design was similar to I-Ik structure of Chandrayaan-1 moon probe with some upgradation and modification. The spacecraft is designed with Aluminum and composite fibre reinforced with plastic sandwich construction . Power was afforded by 7.56 sq.m area of solar panels generating 840 watts of power in Mars Orbit. This energy is stored in 36 Ah Lithium-ion Battery.

     For orbital raising maneuver and orbital insertion into Mars orbit was powered by 440 newtons of liquid fuel engine. it also has eight 22 newton thrusters for attitude control. Its propellant mass is about 852 kg and the total mass of the spacecraft is 1337.2 kg.

Scientific Instruments:

  1. LAP - Lyman Alpha Photometer (1.97 kg)
  2. MSM - Methane Sensor for Mars (2.94 kg)
  3. MENCA - Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (3.56kg)
  4. TIS - Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (3.20 kg)
  5. MCC - Mars Colour Camera (1.27 kg)

     LAP and MSM were used for atmospheric studies; MENCA was used for particle environment studies; TIS and MCC were used for surface imaging studies.

Scientific Objective of the Mission:
  • Primary - Technology demonstration for the purpose of designing, planning, management and operations for interplanetary mission.
  • Secondary - Explore Mars surface, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
  • Tertiary - Explore the Mars surface features like topography, mineralogy, atmosphere, Methane and CO2 detection using remote sensing detection, dynamics of upper atmosphere, effect of solar wind and radiation, escape of volatile atmosphere to outer space.

Pursuing Challenges:

     Inspite of having low powerful launch vehicle “MOM” reached Mars by injecting itself in Trans-Mars trajectory towards Mars using continuous orbital maneuvering propulsion.  Survived in Black out phase when Mars lacked sunlight (It lost most of its fuel during this concern and moved away from blackout for power production).  Loss of capability for Methane detection of MCC (Mars Color Camera) made scientists to switch for albedo mapping applications.  This mission is planned for 6 months, but it survived more than 4 years and expected to continue its observations till 2020s.

Honors and Awards:
  • Upon successful orbital insertion on 24 September 2013. NASA and their scientist congratulated ISRO and Mars scientist including whole team.   
  • Google also celebrated the one-month successful operation of Mangalyaan around Mars.
  • In 2014,China referred India's MOM as "Pride of Asia".
  • MOM and theirs scientists won "US-National Space Society's 2015 Space Pioneer Award" in science and engineering category of which NSS stated "The award was given for successfully executing Mars Mission in its first attempt".
  • One of the image of Mangalyaan's spacecraft is printed in Rupee 2000 currency note of India
  • An image from Mars Color Camera (Mangalyaan) was printed as cover photo of 2016 November issue " National Geographic Magazine"
Future vision and follow up mission:
  • ISRO plans for a follow up mission Mangalyaan-2" (MOM-2) with greater scientific payload by 2020s.
  • It may include a Rover and a Orbiter which is scheduled to launch after Chandrayaan-2 in January 2019.
Results and Publications:

[1] Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft and its Challenges " S.Arunan and R.Satish" Special Issue. Current Science.

Additional References and Supplementary Data:


[1] Mars Orbiter Mission “ I n d i a n S p a c e R e s e a r c h O r g a n i z a t i o n ” Retrieved from on 22 September 2018.

[2] S. Arunan and R. Satish “ Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft and its Challenges ”. Special Issue published in Current Science.

[3] Mangalyaan (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from


Post a Comment