Saturday, November 30, 2013

India's Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM) Tracking, Occupy Mars

Hey All
We are under 3 hrs for India's attempt to explore Mars. As you read this it is on its final orbit around Earth. I thought of sharing some details about MOM and also provide some links to track it.

This is like a sputnik moment happening in our lifetime.Coming from a 3rd world or a developing nation. Enjoy as much as possible.

HOW TO TRACK IT (No need to know rocket science or orbital mechanics)
I have provided some info about India's Mars mission. If you dont like all the introduction blah blah.. Just dont dcroll down.

I will get into tracking of MOM. Yes you can do it from your desktop/Laptop right now.
First to understand what's happening check this animation created by shankara (Awesome work by him) Just annimate the entire mission. No need rocket sci or orbital mechanics.

1) This is a dircet link to see where currently MOM is, what altitude and where it is flying
(Scroll down a bit on this webpage) 

2) Another realtime tracker where you can track any satellite of your choice
Interesting data on tab to the right side

3) This is awesome
Just download this NASA program. It s called "Eyes on the Solar System"

Eyes on the Solar System" is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the cosmos from your computer. Hop on an asteroid. Fly with NASA's Voyager spacecraft. See the entire solar system moving in real time. It's up to you. You control space and time.

Introduction Video :
Download the small software from this link
Some tutorials :

First two links are direct URLs , I hope you can track the MOM.

I wrote this in real hurry so pardon my grammar
Have fun knock yourself out people


Dont scroll down if you want to see copy pasted information about What is India's Mars Mission all about . I thought of writing my own but later realized . I can just use info given by others and credit them. Why to reinvent wheel. the motive here is to share information.

What is MOM.. Overview of the Mission

To give some brief. I stole information on MOM from and ISRO..

Also some from

Image: Indian Space Research Organization

Mangalyaan, also known as Mars Orbiter Mission MOM, is India’s first mission to Mars set for launch aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in November 2013 for an arrival at Mars in 2014. The 1,337-Kilogram spacecraft carries a suite of five instruments to study Mars, its atmosphere and acquire photos of the Red Planet. Most importantly, the mission serves as a demonstration mission with the main objective of placing Mangalyaan in orbit around Mars as a study for future spacecraft and mission design.
The mission was put together on rather short notice – being approved in August 2012 with just 15 months to go until the Interplanetary Launch window that comes once every 26 months. The development of the mission was initiated one year earlier.

The Mars Orbiter Mission was approved by the Indian Government after the Indian Space Research Organization completed a project study. Mangalyaan was approved for a total project cost of $69 million. In 2012, the individual components of the orbiter began assembly before the spacecraft came together in March 2013. The instruments started integration with the spacecraft in April to begin testing in August and September without much margin of error for meeting the launch window that stretches from October 28, 2013 to November 19, 2013.

The Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft is largely based on the Chandrayaan-1 Moon Orbiter featuring the same core structure and spacecraft systems. The Mangalyaan spacecraft bus is cuboid in shape featuring composite and metallic honeycomb sandwich panels and a central composite cylinder that facilitates all spacecraft equipment that is mounted on the panels as well as the cylinder. Fully integrated and fueled for flight, Mangalyaan weighs in at 1,337 Kilograms. The spacecraft has a dry mass of 475 Kilograms including a payload mass of 15 Kilograms and it carries a fuel load of 852 Kilograms.
The spacecraft is equipped with a single deployable solar array that consists of three panels – each being 1.4 by 1.8 meters in size. The assembly also includes a yoke and drive mechanism. The solar array provides 840 Watts of electrical power at Mars that is fed to a power distribution unit that provides power to the various systems and payloads and controls the state of charge of a 36-Amp-hour battery for night passes.

Photo: Indian Space Research Organization

Photo: Indian Space Research Organization

Mangalyaan is equipped with a bipropellant Main Propulsion System and an Attitude Control System. The Propulsion System features two spherical propellant tanks each holding 390 liters of propellant. Mangalyaan uses Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine as fuel and Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen [MON-3: Nitrogen Tetroxide with 3% Nitric Oxide] as oxidizer that is fed to the engines via propellant lines and latch valves as pressure regulators. Tank pressurization is accomplished with high-pressure Helium. The He is stored in tanks at a pressure of 23.5Mpa that is regulated down to under 2MPa for tank pressurization.

The Main Propulsion System is centered around the Liquid Apogee Motor which has become the Indian workhorse on Geostationary Satellites and its previous Moon probe. LAM has demonstrated its capabilities in space many times, but for Mangalyaan, it has to be ensured that the engine can still fire after a 300-day coast to Mars for the orbit insertion maneuver – which is required for mission success.

LAM provides 440 Newtons of thrust which equates to 44.87 Kilograms. The engine operates and an mixture ratio (O/F) of 1.65 and has a nozzle ratio of 160 providing a specific impulse of 3,041N*sec/kg. The engine’s injector is a co-axial swirl element made of titanium while the thrust chamber is constructed of Columbium alloy that is radiatively cooled. Electron welding technique is used to mate the injector to the combustion chamber.

LAM is a robust engine that can tolerate injection pressures of 0.9 to 2.0 MPa, propellant temperatures of 0 to 65°C, mixture ratios of 1.2 to 2.0 and bus voltages of 28 to 42 Volts. The engine is certified for long firings of up to 3,000 seconds and a cumulative firing time of >23,542 seconds.

MOM is equipped with a propulsive Attitude Control System consisting of eight 22-Newton thrusters that also use UMDH and MON-3 propellants.

The thruster also uses a co-axial swirl type Titanium alloy injector and a Columbium combustion chamber. The thrusters operate in blowdown mode at a chamber pressure of 0.68 Mpa creating a specific impulse of 2,780 N*sec/kg. The 22N thrusters have an area ratio of 100. It can be operated in pulse mode with a minimum pulse duration of 8 milliseconds that supplies a minimum impulse of 65mN*sec. Each 22N thruster assembly weighs 0.8 Kilograms.

The 22N thruster is qualified for 300,000 duty cycles as it is mostly operated in pulse mode, but it can also withstand a single burn of up to 10,000 seconds and a cumulative burn time of 70,000 seconds. The engine tolerates a variety of operating conditions: 0.9 to 1.9 MPa on injection pressure, 0.2 to 2.0 on mixture ratio, -5 to 65°C on prop temperature and 28 to 42 Volts on bus voltage.

In addition to a propulsive Attitude Control System, the MOM spacecraft is equipped with four reaction wheels. Attitude and navigation data is provided by two star trackers and gyros as well as a coarse Sun sensor with nine heads. Attitude data is also provided by an Inertial Reference Unit and Accelerometer Package. The spacecraft features a dual redundant bus management unit for attitude control and command processing and execution. The Attitude and Orbit Control Electronics are centered around a MAR31750 processor.

Mangalyaan is equipped with a 2.2-meter diameter High Gain Antenna which is a parabolic X-Band reflector antenna that is used for data downlink and command uplink. Science data and spacecraft telemetry is stored in two 16Gb Solid State Recorders aboard the vehicle for downlink during regular communications sessions. Low and Medium Gain Antennas are used for low-bandwidth communications such as command uplink and systems telemetry downlink.

Mangalyaan carries a 15-Kilogram payload suite that consists of five scientific instruments:

Lyman Alpha Photometer – LAP
Martian Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer – MENCA
Mars Color Camera – MCC
Methane Sensor for Mars – MSM
Thermal Infrared Imaging System – TIS
Soucre (ISRO and )

Trans-Martian Flight Profile

Being delivered to a 250 by 23,500-Kilometer orbit at an inclination of 19.2 degrees, the Mars Orbiter starts out in a type of GSO Transfer Orbit from where it will boost itself into a Trans-Martian Trajectory over a period of four weeks. MOM departs Earth orbit on November 30, 2013 .

This mission design was developed to accommodate the relatively low Payload Capability of the PSLV for an interplanetary mission. A similar profile was being utilized on the Chandrayaan-1 Moon Mission that launched in 2008.

Spending more than four weeks in Earth Orbit requires MOM to be equipped with radiation shielding to endure the numerous passages through Earth’s Radiation Belts.

Over the course of its stay in Earth orbit, MOM fires its Liquid Apogee Motor six times – always when passing perigee to gradually increase the apogee of the orbit to work its way up to departing Earth orbit in a fuel-efficient manner.

Image: Indian Space Research Organization

Image: Indian Space Research Organization
The fifth firing places the spacecraft in a 600 by 215,000-Kilometer orbit around Earth and sets up the proper perigee passage for the final engine burn that puts the vehicle onto its Trans-Martian Trajectory.

The trip to Mars takes about 300 days and features a number of Trajectory Corrections. Shortly after TMI, when the precise trajectory has been determined, MOM corrects any insertion errors on its path to Mars. Later in the mission, when the vehicle is approaching the Red Planet, more Trajectory Correction Maneuvers are performed to target the proper position for the important Mars Orbit Insertion Maneuver.

Assuming and on-time launch and Earth Orbit Departure, Mangalyaan reaches Mars on September 24, 2014.

image: Indian Space Research Organization
Credits: Copied from
More details (Original Page) :

India"s MOM and ISRO's MAVEN



  1. Hey thanks for your blog Prajwal, Really enjoyed reading your blog and the information provided for tracking.
    Please do share these kind of Info for us. really helpful in improving knowledge and to know the things. Proud of you Man. All the very Best

    1. Thanks for your kind words raghav. feels encouraging..cheers