Second Mars mission will have a closer look at the red planet

October 28, 2016 06:16 pm | Updated 06:18 pm IST

BENGALURU: The second Indian Mars orbiter mission, MOM-2, will focus on new ways to look at Mars from a closer orbit than MOM-1, which was designed more for reaching and orbiting the red planet, according to Indian Space Research Organisation’s spokesman.

Nine scientific proposals have been made for riding on MOM-2 that is being aimed for around mid-2020.

These are apart from the main official experiments or payloads that the ISRO will send on the spacecraft. The nine concepts are from academic and research institutions, most of them public agencies, according to the spokesman.

The space agency had invited proposals from academic and research institutions for these additional experiments in August.

The proposals will be screened by the Advisory Committee for Space Science (ADCOS) chaired by the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao. The best ones will be finalised on the basis of their weight.

For now, ISRO plans to keep all experiments within a 100-kg limit, according to the Announcement for Opportunity.

Finalised experiments will be included in the final MOM-2 blueprint that will be presented to the government for approval. People associated with it hope to move the final plan in time to get the approvals and get it to figure in the 2017 Budget.

MOM-2 is also expected to cost much more than its predecessor, which came to a globally least cost of Rs. 450 crore for a Martian mission.

ISRO is taking up MOM-2 after its enormously successful MOM-1 orbiter of 2013, which still goes round the red planet and sends information and images of its surface and atmosphere.

Full disc pictures

MOM-1, which has been going around Mars elliptically at a distance of 400 km x 70,000 km since September 2014, has apparently sent down far more images of the full Martian disc than the two U.S. and an European orbiter mission.

Many aspects of the second mission are still tentative, the spokesman said. However, it is expected to be deployed on the more powerful launch vehicles GSLV MkII or MkIII instead of the PSLV that was used in the first mission. A bigger launcher will mean that the spacecraft can carry less fuel up to Mars and perhaps pack in more experiments, he said.

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