10:58 am - Wednesday December 13, 2017

Countdown begins for Mars Orbiter Mission to leave earth’s gravity at 12.49am

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Countdown begins for Mars Orbiter Mission to leave earth's gravity at 12.49am
Countdown begins for Mars Orbiter Mission to leave earth's gravity at 12.49am

Hyderabad – The count down has begun. Tonight is the night Isro’s scientists are eagerly waiting for. Not with their fingers crossed but with the confidence that they can get on the feeling that they have done their job right. It’s not going to be a nail-biting time but an hour and time that they are looking for to.

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will leave earth’s gravity at 12.49 am tonight (past midnight on Novevmber 30). This would make it 00.49 hrs on Sunday morning (December 1).

“Everything is ready. The team of scientists is on the job,” an Isro spokesperson said explaining the different stages that are to take place operationally.

With ‘MOM’ fans looking forward to the time when the spacecraft will leave the earth’s gravity tonight, they are flooding Isro scientists with questions.

Isro had explained that the two doughnut shaped blankets that shroud the Earth with highly charged plasma particles comprising of electrons, protons and nuclei are called Van Allen Radiation belts and that MOM has successfully sustained several passes of these lethal radiation belts speculated to have been formed by furious solar winds and harmful cosmic rays. Scientists had explained that these belts are a part of Earth’s inner magnetosphere and stretch from an altitude of 1000 km to 60,000 km above Earth. They had also said prolonged exposure to these belts poses a significant threat to various sensitive components of a spacecraft. ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft is designed with sufficient safeguards against such fatal particles.

The question now is: Does Mars also has similar radiation belt(s)? Responding to the query by Arun K Desai, Isro replied that scientists think that Mars had a global magnetic field like that of Earth, which disappeared billions of years ago. Without the protection of this magnetic field, most of the water and atmosphere escaped from Mars. In the absence of Magnetic field, radiation belts also won’t sustain.

To another question by Madhuri J Madhuri, scientists said MOM has to survive the radiation belt while moving at the natural velocity of the orbit. MOM fires its Liquid Engine only for making orbit changes.

It has also been clarified to MOM fans that the spacecraft does not take a longer time to reach Mars because of the extra burn as a result of the fifth orbit raising manoeuvre .

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