Tag Archives: mars

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

In search of a new life: The Mars planet

Life has been existing over for 3.5 billion years ago. There were significant events in the past, like the extinction of dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. We also know about the start of agriculture, human-made tools used for several purposes. Now in the 21st century, we’ve accomplished a lot of achievements. Still, yes, we are slowly destroying the planet Earth. The nature around us earlier was so satisfying maybe a decade or before that. Suddenly, humanity started constructing buildings, complexes, resorts, artificial reservoirs, etc. This list never ends. They are even cutting down the trees to get more residential areas leading to deforestation. After all, this will all lead to a concrete jungle in the future, there will be no oxygen for survival, the animals will start disappearing, and soon everything will come to an end. This sequence of incidents can be a nightmare for someone, but this can turn into a reality. It’s in our hands to save the planet.

A dinosaur statue.
A dinosaur statue.

On the other side, they’re positive things going around the globe. Scientists and researchers have continuously been looking for existence in life in the other planets. Several space programs have been successfully executed and are still in progress. We know our solar system consisting of eight planets, but we’ve been more interested in the planet Mars. The first mission on Mars on 14th July 1965, Mariner 4, followed by Mariner 9, entered into the orbit. Though the first landing was by Mars 2 but crashed due to a malfunction which later on 2nd December 1971, Mars 3 became the first spacecraft to land on the Mars surface, that too interrupted after 14.5 seconds after its signal transmission failed.

A Mars rover.
An animated Mars rover.

Now in search of water on Mars, there are several types of research claiming that it is in the form of ice caps and many more theories. Still, of these findings, scientists, namely John G. MacDonald, Karien Rodriguez, and Stephen Quirk, developed something unique by which plants can be grown. You heard it right, a polymer through which it can deliver oxygen for the germinating sprout. They claim that regolith has nutrients for plant growth, but not oxygen, the prior requirement of a sapling as 95% of the Martian atmosphere is carbon dioxide. They described two methods of extracting oxygen, either from the metal oxides pre-existing in the regolith and electrolysis, but both processes are time-consuming. The proposed idea is that when the polymer combines with sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide, it becomes an oxygen infused foamed hydrogel. It has the potential to deliver controlled amounts of gaseous oxygen. The foamed matrix, along with regolith, can form the base or be directly coated around the seed to grow plants.

A plant is in a hand.
A person is holding a plant.

The most crucial mission among them was MOM, an interplanetary mission by ISRO, India called Mangalyaan, orbiting since 24th September 2014, becoming the 4th space agency to reach the planet Mars with the lowest cost. This mission has fascinated the kids in India, it got picturised in a movie called “Mission Mangal” in the Hindi language, premiered on 13th August 2019 in theaters. Imagination never ends, everything has a route, and hence it becomes a success, a part of the movie’s storyline. I hope you adhere the same in reality.

For more details about the research, you can visit the site mentioned below:

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2019.2056

“Earth,Mars and the Human Connection”

Man and technology have evolved as the industrial revolution started. Which not only served the base for new technology and methods in manufacturing but also motivated people to be a part of it by involving in it as scientists, workers and even the buyers by shifting to urban areas to work for their livelihood. This not only changed the world, but also introduced it to a new phase and living of lifestyle. Today we acknowledge different things in our surroundings, including technology in its manufacturing. This technology has helped humans since ages, and to bring up more comfort to his life. The thought every individual had initially was different difficulties, which made them believe it wasn’t possible, but with the essence of togetherness ,we all made it possible. But the biggest and the massive investment and technological advancement was brought up by the idea to go in the space. The dream which every one had in their childhood, became reality, and we humans have been able to do it. 

Advancement in this science and technology and various other gadgets is not limited, rather growing with new ideas pulling every day. But the next big idea which companies especially like Nasa and Spacex are working on, is to colonise Mars, by 2024. With Believes to make this planet a permanent home to live on. This idea was brought by CEO, founder of spacex Elon musk and has been working with Nasa and it’s team on this project. Humans have sent rovers and satellites to Mars to know various geographical and environmental aspects which have helped to know about it’s terrain and major gases in its atmosphere. 

But the main question which arises in the mind of each individual is “How would this be possible and What would these astronauts be doing at the red planet and would be their strategies”? So for this initially Spacex and Nasa would be sending it’s Big Falcon rockets on an unmanned missions which would be setting up the power sources ( the solar panel) and to mine so as to build their automated Propellent system and plant. The main work for this propellant plant would be to process the excess of carbon dioxide and water found in the surface of Mars to make oxygen and methane which would then be used as a propellant on the return back mission to earth. The sabatier process involved the usage of nickel catalyst to interact with hydrogen and carbon dioxide at high temperatures and pressure which results in the production of water and methane. This would be liquified and used fuel to come back .

But the most important thing to do is to set up their base on Mars which could be similar to the Internal Space station with expansions at each side. Talking about the essentials food and water, these astronauts would be carrying with them almost 2 years’ vault of food vacuumed with them like the one used in the International space Station. Nasa has also been working on the travel mode, which would be a rover-like thing being able to carry around 4-5 people on board even in the baddest and toughest areas if land.. 

“It would be a great adventure to see how humans are able to cross this barrier and prove the power of technologies of different aspects. This journey surely will be  filled with adventures, emotions, series of difficulties but with significant hope and the belief to overcome all of them and achieve success”.