India Prepares to Send Second Spacecraft to Mars
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials have announced that India is preparing to launch another spacecraft to Mars, nine years after successfully placing a rocket in orbit around the red planet on its first attempt. The second mission, known as Mars Orbiter Mission-2 or Mangalyaan-2, will carry four payloads designed to study various aspects of Mars including interplanetary dust, the Martian atmosphere, and the environment.
According to documents accessed by HT, the payloads for the mission are in different stages of development. One of the instruments, Mars Orbit Dust Experiment (MODEX), will study the origin, abundance, distribution, and flux of interplanetary dust particles at high altitudes on Mars. This will help scientists understand whether there is a dust ring around Mars and the source of the dust particles, whether they come from Mars’s moons Phobos and Deimos. The study of dust will also provide insights into the results of the Radio Occultation (RO) experiment, which aims to measure neutral and electron density profiles in the Martian atmosphere.
Another payload, the Energetic Ion Spectrometer (EIS), is being developed to characterize solar energy particles and supra-thermal solar wind particles in the Martian environment. This instrument will help scientists understand the factors contributing to the loss of the Martian atmosphere by measuring high-energy charged particles.
The Mars Orbiter Mission-2 will also carry a Langmuir Probe and Electric Field Experiment (LPEX), which will enable the measurement of electron number density, electron temperature, and electric field waves. This will provide a better understanding of the plasma environment on Mars.
The first Mars orbiter mission, launched in 2013, was India’s first interplanetary initiative. It successfully placed a spacecraft in Mars orbit and operated for seven years before its retirement in 2021. The mission had technological objectives to showcase the design, realization, and launch of a Mars orbiter spacecraft and to study the planet’s surface features, morphology, mineralogy, and atmosphere.
With this upcoming mission, India aims to further deepen its understanding of Mars and contribute to the scientific exploration of the red planet. The launch date for Mangalyaan-2 has not been announced yet, but scientists and space enthusiasts eagerly await this next milestone in India’s space exploration journey.