|Disassembled view of the spacecraft (Photo: ISRO)|
India's first Mars spacecraft, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan, lunched on November last year is now orbiting Mars since 24th this month. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) claims that most of the technologies associated with the design, planning, management, and operations were innovative and developed in India. Therefore the mission was way less expensive than NASA's MAVEN.
MOM spacecraft is equipped with four different instruments in addition to a camera. Scientists are hoping to get some scientific information (primarily chemical constituents) of Mars surface and atmosphere. The camera will send color photographs of Mars surface that will help to study the surface feature and composition of Mars.
Will this mission tell us about the signal of life in Mars? Well, that depends on the information these instruments will send us.
1. Infrared spectrometer: The MOM spacecraft is loaded with a thermal infrared imaging spectrometer (TIIS). Such thermal infrared spectrophotometers measure the emitted infrared radiation from Mars surface. It will help to identify the chemical composition of Mars surface by comparing the spectra it sends to already known materials.
|Indian made TIIS (Photo: ISRO)|
2. Photometer: MOM spacecraft has Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP) to measure the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emissions in the upper Mars atmosphere. As stated in MOM's website, measuring the ration of deuterium over hydrogen will allow an estimation of the amount of water loss to outer space.
|LAP (Photo: ISRO)|
3. Mass spectrometer: The quadruple mass spectrometer will measure the relative abundance of neutral constituents in the range of 1 to 300 atomic mass unit.
|MENCA (Photo: ISRO)|
4. Methan sensor: Methan sensor placed on the spacecraft will measure methane in the Mars atmosphere and its sources. Methane is the most widely present hydrocarbon in our solar system. It has four hydrogen atoms attached tetrahedrally to a carbon atom. Presence of methane could tell us about the possibility of biological source on Mars. However, previous research with NASA's curiosity rover didn't find even traces of methane in Mars unlike previous estimations.
|Methan sensor (Photo: ISRO)|
|Schematic of Methane (CH4)|