Phobos: Reimagining through a new view

3, 2, 1, Liftoff. You may remember the moment when the countdown was going on for the PSLV C25 at 02:36 PM IST to lift from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013, carrying the other five payloads containing the colour camera which now captured new images of Phobos moon. Let’s have the insights on the Mangalyaan. Mangalyaan or Mars Craft from its Sanskrit root words, the orbiter weighing 3 thousand lbs (1.35 thousand kgs) was a successful mission lately after being criticized for the initial failure. The budget was merely 73 million dollars or 450 crores Indian rupees equivalent to an Indian cinema movie’s box office collection for Ghajini in 2008 as recorded in 2019.

The planet Mars has two moons, namely Phobos and Deimos. The closest and the biggest among the two moons is Phobos. It was picturised as shown above with the color corrected six frames MCC on July 1, 2020, with 210m spatial resolution. The MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) was 7.2 thousand km away from Mars and 4.2 thousand km from the moon Phobos. It is said that it comprises of carbonaceous chondrite. The giant crater on the surface, namely Stickney, Shklovsky, Roche & Grildrig was noticeable in the picture.

Actual image of the moon Phobos. Courtesy: ISRO

With its fuel efficiency estimated to be only for six months survives till now and achieved success on its first launch itself. On December 1, 2013, it went out of the gravitation field sooner. On September 24, 2014, after a long journey of 300 days makes it enter into the Mars orbit. The subsequent mission by ISRO, MOM 2 or Mangalyaan 2 did fail when the Vikram lander had lost connection after it crashes over the surface. There is no proper evidence of what exactly went wrong in the mission, but it is said that the ALP (Automatic Landing Program) braking thrusters had failed to result in the incidence. There was a big controversy between NASA and ISRO claiming the lander was found, although an Indian scientist spotted it.

Now ISRO with its grand vision is planning for Chandrayaan 3 to send Indian astronauts to space by 2022. This mission is again a cost saver with 35 million dollars for the new equipment and another 51 million dollars for the launcher. India has been already prosperous in launching 104 satellites just in a single mission. Chandrayaan 2 was made only with 141 million dollars budget.

The MOM as described has five instruments onboard:

1) MCC with a 2K×2K area array CMOS sensor for beautiful images of Mars in colourised format.

2) TIS (Thermal Infrared grating spectrometer) houses an infrared detector known as a microbolometer.

3) Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) by its name is used to measure the presence of methane in the atmosphere, which is a differential radiometer with acute accuracy in parts per billion.

4) Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA) is a spectrometer to determine the contents in the martian environment

5) Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP) is a photometer to find abundance in composition to know the actual components on the surface and more.

By these, we can know more about Mars and its moons. Also, you can check out the 3D model of Phobos here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2358/phobos-3d-model/

And also, about NASA’s blog claiming to find clues of the crashed Vikram lander: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2019/vikram-lander-found