Mars presents a very hostile environment with extreme temperatures While life developed on Earth, Mars experienced drastic climate changes. Mangalyaan-2 will be launched using ISRO's most powerful rocket LVM-3

After its historic success with Mangalyaan, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to return to Mars with a bigger, bolder, and braver mission.

Building on the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission or Mangalyaan, the second edition aims to go a step further by landing a rover and helicopter on the Martian surface. This mission, highlighted on National Technology Day at the Space Application Centre, promises to make India the third nation to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars, following the United States and China.

ISRO's rover will arrive on Mars in a revolutionary way. Instead of using traditional methods like airbags and ramps, the rover will be gently lowered onto the Martian surface with an advanced sky crane.

This system ensures a secure and precise landing even on Mars' challenging terrain and will perhaps be the landing method used for future human landings on the Red Planet about two decades from now. Additionally, a supersonic parachute is being developed to manage the intense descent through Mars' atmosphere.

Mars has a thin atmosphere, about 1% as dense as Earth's, making traditional parachutes ineffective. When a spacecraft enters Mars' atmosphere at high speeds, it needs a supersonic parachute to deploy at these velocities, significantly slowing the descent.

This ensures a controlled and stable landing, mitigating the intense heat generated due to friction. NASA used a similar approach for the Perseverance rover's landing in 2021.

Despite a success rate of less than 50% in over 50 missions sent by various space agencies from Earth, Mars remains a hot spot for engineers, scientists and astronomers.

A Helicopter In The Making

One of the most exciting components of Mangalyaan-2 is a helicopter designed to fly in Mars' thin atmosphere. This engineering marvel, known as MarBLE (Martian Boundary Layer Explorer), will carry scientific instruments to study the Martian atmosphere during its 100-meter flights. With its success, India would become the second nation, after the United States' Ingenuity helicopter, to fly a helicopter on Mars, beating China in this race.

To maintain constant communication with the rover and helicopter, ISRO plans to launch a relay communication satellite before the main mission. This satellite will act as a crucial link between Mars and Earth, ensuring a steady flow of data and mission control.

Mangalyaan-2 will be launched using ISRO's most powerful rocket yet, the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3). Mars is about 225 million kilometers away from Earth and reaching there would be a long journey spanning many months.

Why Mars?

Mars presents a very hostile environment with extreme temperature variations, from 20 degrees Celsius in summer to minus 73 degrees Celsius in winter. Despite a success rate of less than 50% in over 50 missions sent by various space agencies, Mars remains one of the most frequently targeted destinations in space exploration.

There are three main reasons for this focus on Mars.

First, humans are explorers, and one of our fundamental quests is to determine whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. Mars, being the planet most similar to Earth in the Solar System, is an excellent place to investigate this question. Evidence suggests that Mars once had abundant water, rivers, a warmer climate, and a thicker atmosphere, creating a potentially habitable environment.

Second, the scientific interest in Mars is significant. While life developed on Earth, Mars experienced drastic climate changes. Studying its volcanoes, meteoroid impact craters, and other geophysical processes provides insights into its history.

Atmospheric samples could reveal crucial details about Mars' formation and evolution, helping us understand our own planet better and its future.

Third, robotic missions to Mars help reduce the cost and risk of future human exploration. These missions can scout potential resources and assess the risks of working on the planet.

Elon Musk has announced SpaceX’s ambitious plans to establish human colonies on Mars, aiming to have a million people on the planet by 2050. While these plans may seem difficult for now, understanding the hazards on Mars is crucial before sending astronauts. Identifying any biohazards in the soil and dust is essential for planning and preparing future missions.

Mangalyaan-2 Has A Big Responsibility

Mangalyaan-2 transcends mere observation; it propels India into the role of explorer. The mission aims to uncover valuable scientific data and map the Martian terrain, paving the way for future pioneers.

The knowledge and technology developed during this mission will have a ripple effect, leading to advancements in various fields. New materials might be discovered on our brother planet, with applications that could improve our everyday lives.

This is the true power of space exploration—it's not just about reaching for the stars but about using that knowledge to improve life back on Earth. These materials could support future colonisation efforts and provide insights into the planet's geophysical processes.

India's Mangalyaan-2 mission marks a giant leap towards space power status. It showcases India's unwavering scientific spirit and quest to explore the cosmos, for the benefit of all humanity.

By 2050, Mars could become a new home for humanity, and India is poised to play a vital role in this cosmic journey.

(With Agency Inputs)