Wednesday, June 11, 2014
ISRO’s Mission Mars set for tricky manoevre.
In football season, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is playing celestial soccer with its maiden mission to Mars, Mangalyaan. Today at 4.30 pm it will gently nudge India’s Mars Orbiter Mission closer to Red Planet! It is a risky operation and if things go wrong the Rs 450 crore mission launched on November 5, 2013 from Sriharikota could well get lost, extinguishing the dreams of a billion plus people of India! Almost twenty percent of the 51 global mission launched so far towards Mars have been lost en-route. Speaking to Pallava Bagla, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said `it is not a routine operation, great precision is required in calculating and correctly firing in the exact direction, the four small rocket engines on board the spacecraft’ adding Team ISRO is `confident’ of executing the commands such that Manglayaan hits `Bulls Eye’. In the process going ahead of its regional rival China in this 21 st century space race to reach Mars. ISRO confirms, India's mission to Mars is healthy and has covered about 466 million kilometre or about 70% of its treacherous journey, out of its arduous 680 million km journey to Mars. For the last six months after it departed from Earth almost like the demon `Kumbhakaran’ from the epic Ramayana it has been in a state of induced slumber. Today after waking it at 4.30 PM its rocket engines will be fired for a mere 16 seconds. It is a tricky manoeuvre and it has to be kicked it in the right direction. Solar wind yes there is something called solar wind, which makes inter-planetary spacecraft drift from course. The spacecraft can easily get lost if the firing goes awry. In this soccer season, the high flying Mangalyaan will be given just that gentle nudge by Bangalore so that it nets its goal on September 24, 2014 when it is supposed to rendezvous with the Red Planet. It will be first re-oriented and then commands that have been pre-loaded on to its computers will kick in to initiate the sequence. There are still a few more hazardous steps before ISRO can strike a `hole-in-one’ on its mission mars. Mangalyaan is currently travelling with a velocity of 28 km/s or about 100,800 kilometres per hour and is today under the influence of the Sun. It is now the fastest and farthest ever-traveling Indian object. It is so far away that it takes a radio signal almost 5 minutes to travel from Bangalore to the Mangalyaan. To be netted by Mars it has to reach within 440-560 km from the surface of Mars after its epic marathon. If it does India will be the third country in the world to achieve such an exacting target on the maiden journey. Pallava Bagla