Having spent two years scanning the atmosphere of the red planet, ISRO’s Mangalyaan or Mars Orbiter Mission seems to be on the cusp of a major discovery. Senior officials at the Space Applications Centre (SAC), where a sizeable quantum of data from the Mars Orbiter is being analysed, have pointed to “interesting results” being generated from the mission.
“We expect some interesting results from the sensors (aboard Mangalyaan). These results are currently under review. We have formed a national committee to look into the data,” said Tapan Misra, director of SAC, an important arm of ISRO that has developed three of the five payloads for the Mangalyaan mission. This includes Methane Sensor for Mars, Mars Colour Camera and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.
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“A six-member team is currently conducting the review of this sensitive data,” he said, while talking on the sidelines of a “World Space Week 2016” event held at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition (VSSE) Centre on Tuesday. The results of the Mangalyaan mission is being reviewed by a team headed by Professor Somak Raychaudhury, director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune. Once the review is completed, ISRO will go public with the findings.
The Mangalyaan mission seems pretty close to fructification, just a year after NASA confirmed that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) had found water on Mars. An imaging spectrometer on MRO had helped arrive at this conclusion. Misra said that ISRO had received about three gigabytes of raw data from the Mangalyaan mission that entered the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014. “The effective information found in this raw data is little,” Misra added. Officials said that SAC is largely analysing data from the methane sensor which is one of the five payloads aboard Mangalyaan.