India’s Mars orbiter craft has completed eight years in its orbit, well beyond its designed mission life of six months. Plans on a follow-on ‘Mangalyaan’ mission to the Red Planet, however, are yet to be firmed up.
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – a technology demonstration venture – is the maiden interplanetary mission of the national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Launched on November 5, 2013, the probe was successfully inserted into Martian orbit on September 24, 2014 in its first attempt.
To mark the latest milestone, ISRO has organised a ‘National Meet on Eight Years of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)’ at its headquarters here on Tuesday with an inaugural address by its Chairman S Somanath.
Space Commission members K Radhakrishnan and A S Kiran Kumar would deliver special addresses at the meet, which would focus on themes ‘Mars Orbiter Mission Overview’, ‘Scientific Achievements’ and ‘Future Directions in the exploration of the inner solar system’.
As the then chairman of ISRO, Radhakrishnan had led the MOM (Mangalyaan) mission team.
ISRO came out with an ‘Announcement of Opportunity’ (AO) for future Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM-2) in 2016 but officials acknowledged that it’s still on the drawing board, with the coming ‘Gaganyaan’, ‘Chandrayaan-3’ and ‘Aditya – L1’ projects being in the space agency’s current priority list.
The AO had said: “It is now planned to have the next orbiter mission around Mars for a future launch opportunity. Proposals are solicited from interested scientists within India for experiments onboard an orbiter mission around Mars (MOM-2), to address relevant scientific problems and topics”.
“Not in the approved list as of now”, a senior ISRO official told PTI on Monday on being asked about an update on the MOM-2.
“We need to formulate the project proposals and payloads based on the wider consultation with the research community”, the official said on condition of anonymity. “It’s still on the drawing board. But needs some more details and international collaboration for finalising the mission”.
“It’s quite a satisfying and fulfilling moment”, MOM’s Programme Director M Annadurai told PTI today on the Mars orbiter craft completing eight years in orbit.