Isro's maiden mission to Mars was expected to last only six months, but has been repeatedly extended by Isro engineers. On the sidelines of the Gujarat Technological University's convocation, Isro chief AS Kiran Kumar announced another extension to the mission has been successfully executed.
The problem was that Mars was coming in between the orbiter and the sun, and if the blackout lasted more than 8 hours, then the orbiter would no longer be able to function.
In every orbit, there was a duration of time when the solar panels would no longer be getting sunlight. Isro scientists had been closely monitoring the duration of the eclipses in each orbit, and maneuvered the spacecraft just when the eclipse would have been too long. A day prior to the maneuver, the eclipse would not have affected the spacecraft at all.
"On January 17 evening, we maneuvered to change the orbit of Mangalyaan and reduced the duration of eclipse," the Isro chief said at the convocation, according to a report in The Times of India. The spacecraft is in good health and has 30 kg of fuel on board, which should keep it up and running for a very long time. The Mangalyaan mission has been silent on Twitter since 1 January, 2016, but the scientific instruments on board continue to operate.
In September last year, Mangalyaan celebrated two years of the orbital insertion maneuver that put the spacecraft in an orbit around Mars. Although meant to be mostly a technology demonstration mission, so that Isro scientists could figure out their first interplanetary mission, there are five scientific instruments on board. There is a colour camera for imaging the surface of the planet. The methane sensor measures the amount of methane in the Martian atmosphere, which could potentially discover signs of life on Mars. There is a Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer to monitor the surface temperature of the planet.
There is a Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer for analysing small particles and a Lyman-Alpha Photometer to measure the abundance of Deuterium and Hydrogen. The instruments were built in Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru. The data collected by the orbiter is being made available to the scientific community worldwide as well as the general public.
Updated Date: Jan 20, 2017 12:46 PM