The Mars Orbiter Mission, India’s first interplanetary spacecraft, is tipped to live longer that it was meant to. The government today told the Lok Sabha that MOM would live far beyond its planned life span of six months after insertion in to the Mars orbit.
The mission had entered the Mars orbit on September 24 last year. It was expected to remain live until March 24, 2015, carrying out various investigations. Now, its unutilised reserve fuel is expected to allow it to carry on.
“One of the life-limiting parameters of a spacecraft, under nominal orbital conditions, is the availability of propellant to maintain its orbit and orientation. In case of MOM, a reserve of 37 kg propellant is available in the satellite. Since the health parameters of all critical systems of the satellite are very satisfactory, it is expected that MOM will outlive its planned life span of six months,” Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office that controls the Department of Space, said in a written reply to a question posed by Rakshatai Khadse of the BJP.
His answer did not mention how long the mission would continue to live on the reserve propellant, but said it would continue to gather and transmit data to the earth station in Bangalore. “The increased duration of observation of Mars by five scientific payloads will enhance the planetary science data. It would also enable coverage of Mars in different seasons,” it said.
In reply to another question, by Kirron Kher of the BJP, Singh said MOM was in very good health and all the five payloads were providing “valuable data” about the Mars surface features and Martian atmosphere.