By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The fate of India’s Rs 450-crore Mars Orbit Mission (MOM) – Mangalyan – will be out by 1 pm (IST) on Wednesday, when the exact parameters of the orbit will be known to the space scientists. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said that the Mars Orbit Insertion set to be executed on Wednesday morning will be the most challenging task of the mission. “If everything goes by our original plan, then Mangalyan will have a total life of six months,” Radhakrishnan told Express, during an exclusive interview at Antariksh Bhavan.
"The mission had three major challenges. The first one was the launch of MOM using PSLV-XL in November 2013; then the Trans-Mars Injection done in December 2013. Here the challenge was to give the required velocity in specific periods. Finally, we will undertake the most critical task of Mars Orbit Insertion on Wednesday," the top space scientist said. Mangalyan is the cheapest Mars mission being undertaken by any nation so far.
With the scientific temper of the whole nation skyrocketing with every bit of MOM moments being captured and cheered for last 300 days, Radhakrishnan said the overwhelming response from Indians across the globe inspired his team. "India has been living with this mission. The sentiments and richness of the comments of every Indian moved us. It made all of us really proud. It has been a great pleasure reading every bit of views that poured in during the last 10 months. It is a priceless feeling when the nation stands behind you and echoes in one voice -- We are with you. Mangalyan has the blessings of the people," Radhakrishnan said.
Mangalyan will get into the orbit at 8:15 am today with the engine firing scheduled at 07:17:32 (7 hours, 17 minutes and 32 seconds). “After a delay of 12 minutes, by 07:30:02, we will come to know whether the burning has started. The entire burning will be for 1453 seconds (24-plus minutes). Within four minutes of the burning, the scientists would receive the first data. There is a communication blackout set to occur 20 minutes into the engine burning, with the radio link between MOM and ground station getting blocked by Mars. The operations during this period will be carried out autonomously. The link will restart again at 08:00:16,” he said. On Wednesday, the Mars colour camera is also expected to be switched on, after the mission progresses ahead on the expected path.
Terming Monday’s four-second test-firing of the liquid engine as a ‘mission guided by wisdom and executed by youth,’ Radhakrishnan refused to take any credit for Mangalyan’s success so far. “The show goes on. The guidance of all our seniors, the relentless efforts of my team in ISRO and the support of the whole nation have brought us this far. There are around 100 scientists directly involved in this mission,” Radhakrishnan said.
Under no pressure: When asked whether he was under any kind of pressure, Radhakrishnan said with a smile: “Pressure? I will be with my team today (Tuesday) night and will wake up at 3 am tomorrow (Wednesday). There’s nothing like pressure if you keep doing your work. As Bhagavat Gita says: Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana (You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions),” Radhakrishnan said.
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