French President Francois Hollande reached home with two major accomplishments from his India visit, one is nod for buying 36 French Rafale aircraft at Rs 60,000 to 66,000 crore (around 8 to 9 billion Euros), and the next big thing is to build a joint Mars Orbiter Mangalyaan 2 that will explore water sources and life traces, if any,on the Red Planet.
French President Francois Hollande whose visit as the chief guest of Indian Republic Day, saw 16 agreements signed in just one day but the ISRO and CNES joint collaboration comes as a major boost to ISRO’s future Mars and other deep space explorations.
Indian Space Reserch Organisation won applaudfs across the world for its unique first attempt to reach Mars at a cost of Rs.150-crore worth spacecraft that is still functioning despite its lifespan of 6 months crossed in March 2015 itself. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the message to Indians in New York when he addressed at the Madison in Times Square that India was able to reach Mars at a cost of Rs.7 per kilometre whereas the minimum autofare in any city in India is more than Rs.10 and even Rs.12.
The Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) was launched on 5 November 2013 and it reached the orbit of the Red Planet nine months after on 24 September, 2014, lofting India into the club of top 5 space nations. Even China was unable to reach Mars in its first attempt and so is the case with other nations. The Mangalyaan is still orbiting Mars and sent the New Year greetings to ISRO on Jan. 1, 2016. With more than 30-kg fuel still left in the spacecraft, MOM is ecpected to last another six months to one year, according to ISRO.
Its four cameras and sensors — Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) — have sent images and information on methane, hydrogen, deuterium and Martian surface features so far.
With the upcoming India-France Joint Mars Orbiter set for 2020 launch, the areas of exploration are still under scanner but probing water traces and life organism being the major focus, the equipment will be manufactured. Otherwise, US Mars Mission MAVEN is giving company to Mangalyaan currently.
With Mangalyaan 2 originally planned for launch in 2018, with French collaboration it may be sometime in 2020 but before that European Union is planning to launch ExoMars lander this year (2016) to trace gas resources on Mars surface, while in 2018, NASA is planning to send its InSight Lander that can join Curiosity Rover on Mars. While United Arab Emirates is also exploring the possibility of sending a Mars mission in 2020, India’s Mangalyaan 2 may become a joint venture with France, if both countries push together the joint project. China and Russia are planning series of missions to Mars between 2020 and 2040.