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MOM Gets Ready for Date with Red Planet

Discussion in 'Education & Research' started by Manmohan Yadav, Sep 1, 2014.

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  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A lot will depend on a gutsy motor developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Valiamala as ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) gets ready for its appointment with the Red Planet less than four weeks from now.

    It’s the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) aboard MOM that must slow the mission down as it enters the orbit of Mars and hold it there. At a crucial juncture when the man-made satellite is gripped by the planet’s gravitational pull, this is imperative to prevent it from crashing on the planet’s surface. MOM’s rendezvous with Mars is slated for September 24. “The LAM must fire in the direction opposite to the mission’s flight as the planet’s gravity starts tugging at it.

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    This ‘braking’ or velocity reduction is a critical event,” said M Chandra Dathan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and former director of LPSC. LAM was developed at the LPSC, one of the units of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) here, and vetted thoroughly before being fitted aboard the Mars mission. It was used to raise the orbit of MOM after launch on November 5, 2013, and then push it towards Mars. But ever since, it has been in ‘hibernation.’ Bringing it back to ‘life’ is sure to give ISRO scientists some tense moments. “It’s a reliable engine which we have developed at LPSC, but the thing to remember is that although it has been used on this mission, the engine has been dormant for several months as the mission was making its way to Mars,” Dathan said.

    The LAM aboard MOM, which uses liquid propellant, is a modified version of the ones used on ISRO satellites. It is programmed to fire at the crucial moment and “everything is being monitored from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore,” Dathan said.

    On Thursday, ISRO announced that the MOM had covered 90 percent of the distance from Earth to Mars. The space agency is keeping its fingers crossed as D-Day is approaching and all eyes will soon be on ISTRAC where all top- scientists will gather to monitor the progress of the Rs 450-crore mission.
     
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