The Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM celebrated its 1,000th Earth day in space, a feat not many expected it to achieve as the orbiter was estimated to last 180 days or over six months in space. Also, its remaining fuel levels also mean that the orbiter may still have “more years” left.
MOM Outlasted its Expected Target
MOM was launched on November 5, 2013, aboard a PSLV-C25 rocket and reached its Martian target nine months later. Starting with September 24, 2014, the spacecraft has been in a fixed orbit around the Red Planet. Also since then, it has been collecting and beaming back data. Until now, MOM’s onboard camera returned over 715 pictures.
Initially set to orbit the planet for 180 days, Mars Orbiter Mission outlived this estimates by almost ten times. However, the spacecraft did have to face some quite serious issues. One of them is its “blackout”, which lasted from June 2, 2015, to July 2, 2015. This is considered to have been caused by a solar conjunction.
Also, from May 18, 2016, up till May 30, 2016, MOM had a “whiteout”, which left it unable to communicate with Earth. This was generated by Earth coming in between Mars and the Sun.
ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organization) launched MOM with a fixed 852 kilograms of fuel on board. Back in March 2015, its then fuel levels offered the first chance to extend its mission by a further six months. Now, the still remaining fuel will help further increase the mission’s duration.
The 1,000 Earth days spent orbiting Mars correspond to 973,24 Mars Sols or Martian Solar days. During this period, MOM completed 388 orbits. Its remaining 14 to 15 kilograms of fuel are expected to keep it going for another few years, according to an ISRO release.
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