Happy Birthday Mangalyaan!

India celebrated the successful launch of its first Mars-bound spacecraft on 24th September 2014 becoming the first Asian country to attempt to reach the red planet. The unmanned “Mangalyaan” orbiter’s launch was described as “textbook” by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) officials, with the satellite successfully entering an elliptical orbit around Earth that will slingshot it toward Mars.

Mars Orbiter spacecraft marks one year of its life around the red planet. After successfully completing one year of the mission life around Mars, now a large data set has been acquired. On this occasion Space Applications Centre, (ISRO), Ahmedabad has brought out a Mars Atlas which contains a compilation of images acquired by Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and results obtained by other payload results in a form of scientific atlas.

The 350-tonne launch vehicle, carrying an unmanned probe, was monitored by dozens of control room scientists who face their most daunting task since India began its space program in 1963. The country has never before attempted interplanetary travel and more than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including one by China in 2011 and another by Japan in 2003.

The images from MCC have provided unique information about Mars at varying spatial resolutions. It has obtained Mars Global data showing clouds, dust in atmosphere and surface albedo variations, when acquired from apoapsis at around 72000 km. On the other hand high resolution images acquired from periapsis show details of various morphological features on the surface of Mars.

The mission is indeed a proud moment for every Indian as it has expanded its horizons beyond our green planet and now not just sky but the universe is limit. Through this successful mission, India has scripted space history that sends a strong message to the world about India’s position in space science. This success of Mangalyaan, although a small mission, is going to make in-roads for bigger, more significant future missions to Mars & beyond.

Oshin Lamba
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