Mars Current Affairs

ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission completes 3 years in orbit

ISRO’s globally acclaimed Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) also known as Mangalyaan completed three years in Martian orbit. It has outlived its original lifespan and is still in good health and continues to work as expected.

On the occasion of completion of three years, ISRO released MOM second year science data from September 24, 2014 to September 23, 2016.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

Mangalyaan spacecraft was launched on board of PSLV C25 rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013 with aim of studying Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scan its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars). It had entered Mar’s orbit on September 24, 2014, in its first attempt. It was nine-month-long mission.

The spacecraft was indigenously designed, built and launched by ISRO in record period of less than two years in Rs.450 crore ($73 million US) budget, making it cheapest inter-planetary mission till date to reach Mars.

The spacecraft has five instruments mounted on it for collecting scientific data of Mar’s morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature, surface geology and atmospheric escape process. These five instruments are Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) and Mars Colour Camera (MCC)

Records

In September 2014, India (ISRO) created space history by becoming first nation in world to successfully launch interplanetary mission spacecraft into Mars orbit in maiden attempt. ISRO also become first Asian and fourth space agency in world to reach Mars orbit after the Roscosmos of Russia, NASA and European Space Agency.

Awards

For its enormous success in Mangalyaan mission, ISRO was conferred 2014 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development. The programme team of mission was conferred with prestigious 2015 Space Pioneer Award in Science and Engineering category by National Space Society (NSS).

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Researchers: Soil of Mars may be Toxic to Alien Life

According to the research carried out by Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, surface of Mars has chemical compounds called perchlorates that can wipe out living organisms.

Salient Facts

The researchers have found that the chemical compounds found on the surface of Mars when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light can kill the bacteria which are commonly carried by spacecraft. This finding has given a blow to the hopes of finding alien life on the surface of the Mars.

The research has also suggested that the effect of perchlorates gets compounded by two other type of chemicals found on the Mars such as iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide. With the presence of all three chemicals, the scientists saw a more than 10-fold increase in death of bacteria cells when compared to those caused by the perchlorates alone.

Scientists carried out an investigation to study the potential reactivity of perchlorates and their effect on Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium which is commonly found on spacecraft and also on the soils and rocks. It was found out that when magnesium perchlorate was exposed to UV radiation as on Mars then it becomes capable of killing bacteria more effectively than UV light alone. In the presence of concentrations of perchlorate similar to those found on Mars, cells of B subtilis will quickly die.

The above study has concluded that the Martian surface may be highly damaging to living cells owing to a toxic mix of oxidants, iron oxides, perchlorates and UV energy.

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