Meet the Indian masterminds behind Isro's historic Mars mission

Chennai: The following are the Indian scientists who have made the Mars Orbiter Mission possible:

• K. Radhakrishnan, 64, Chairman ISRO, Secretary in Department of Space. With ISRO since 1972. Responsible for overall activities of ISRO.

• S. Ramakrishnan, 64, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Member Launch Authorisation Board. With ISRO since 1972. Responsible for realising the rocket (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) that would ferry the Mars orbiter. Challenge: The launch window is only five minutes. The 28 minutes coasting time of the rocket before the ignition of the fourth engine is also long. The overall launch duration of around 45 minutes is nearly double that of the normal PSLV launches.

Scientists work on the Mars Orbiter vehicle at Isro's Bangalore centre. AFP

Scientists work on the Mars Orbiter vehicle at Isro's Bangalore centre. AFP

• M. Annadurai, 55, Programme Director, Mars Orbiter Mission. Responsible for budget management, direction for spacecraft configuration, schedule management, resource allocation for the mission. Challenge: India's first true inter-planetary mission. Lots of autonomy for the spacecraft to take decisions on its own. There is a nearly 50 percent difference in climatic conditions between Earth and Mars.

• A.S. Kiran Kumar, 61, Director, Satellite Application Centre. Responsible for designing and building three of the orbiter payloads - Mars Colour Camera, Methane Sensor and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer. Challenge: Miniaturising the components as the satellite does not provide much space.

• M.Y.S.Prasad, 60, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Chairman, Launch Authorisation Board. Responsible for range safety and schedules, overall incharge at rocket port.
Challenge: Launch during northeast monsoon season, enhanced weather forecasting capability to 10 days, simultaneously carrying out preparatory work for Mars Mission while dismantling the GSLV rocket after the mission was aborted this year.

• S.K. Shivakumar, 60, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre. Responsible for developing satellite technology and implementing satellite systems for scientific, technological and application missions.

• P. Kunhikrishnan, 52, Project Director, PSLV programme; ninth time as mission director. Responsible for seeing the rocket completes is mission successfully and that the satellite is correctly injected in the designated orbit. Challenge: The orbital characteristic is different from regular PSLV missions. The total duration of the launch is 44 minutes. This requires lot of thermal management as the temperature in space will be low. The systems and equipment have to be protected from low temperatures.

• S. Arunan, 50, Project Director, Mars Orbiter Mission. Responsible for leading a team to build the spacecraft. Challenges: Building a new communication system; making the
spacecraftL largely autonomous to take decisions, making the orbiter engine restart after 300 days, designing solar power cells, developing new navigation software.

• B. Jayakumar, 54, Associate Project Director, PSLV Project. Responsible for the rocket systems, testing till the final lift-off. Challenges: Long launch duration of 44 minutes, providing additional thermal protection for components and systems.

• M.S.Pannirselvam, 59, Chief General Manager, Range Operation Director at Sriharikota Rocket port. Responsible for maintaining launch schedules without any slippages.


Published Date: Nov 05, 2013 03:53 pm | Updated Date: Nov 05, 2013 03:56 pm