Lok Sabha TV Insights: Water on Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is also called Red Planet, which comes under the category of terrestrial planets. Mars lies between Earth and the Asteroid belt in the Solar system.
History of Mars Exploration
Mars exploration, with the help of probes started from 1960’s, when Soviet Union launched its two probes within four days. Marine -9 of NASA became the first probe to orbit it in 1971.Soviet Unions’ Mars series were the first to make contact with the surface of MARS, but they failed in the process.
Since then, lot of missions have been target towards MARS. We will specifically talk about the recent ones:-
- Curiosity Rover
- MOM- Mars Orbiter Mission
Curiosity rover and MAVEN both have been launched by NASA. Rover is doing surface exploration and MAVEN is inspecting the Mar’s Atmosphere and also serves as communication relay satellite for rovers and robotic landers on Mars Surface.
Indian MOM is one of the technological mission, which has demonstrated the technological capability of Indian space agency ISRO, which has launched it in its first attempt and India has become fourth country in the world to launch mission on Mars after Soviet Union, NASA and ESA.
MOM’s mission is also to understand how atmosphere has escaped and its composition and reasons, which can also give solution if any such thing happens with the earth’s atmosphere. May be Earth’s Atmosphere can also escape in future? On the basis of information, models can be made to understand about earth.
Why Mars is so sought after?
According to scientists, it is the place in the solar system most likely to have had life emerged and in addition to that Mars being also the most logical ultimate target for human exploration since it is near to the earth than others (being far and exploration would be more risky and expensive).
Also, the series of explorations have found few changes occurring at MARS from past to present, which excites about ‘something is happening’ on MARS
Importance of the recent founding
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found water on Mars, but still search is going on how it turned dry. Hydrated chlorates have been found so it is inference about presence of water. Few years back, India’s “Chandrayaan” found water on MOON, after that this is biggest announcement.
Mystery of Mars also shows periodic level of changes taking place according to the season. So, there are possibilities of atmospheric water or subterranean water, source of water is not known.
After comparing the pictures of gullies (shown in image below), ancient channels on the surface of MARS, NASA has concluded that some recent phenomenon has occurred which shows hydrated form of water. No definitive conclusion has been found, it’s early to comment.
Life on Mars is possible if NASA’s suspicion is true, but before coming to any conclusion we need to know the composition of water.
For sustaining life not only Water is required, other than that atmosphere, magnetism and other factor are also needed.
May be NASA’s next mission would be to send humans on Mars, but it is very early to comment whether it is needed or not. They are planning it to do it by 2020, in fact experiments are going on, but no formal announcement has been done. Apprehensions are there that it may contaminate MARS environment and the global community should be careful while taking such steps. “The Martian” movie being released on 2nd October, can give some glimpse of it 🙂
Few scientists are not approving any manned mission for now. For justification they are saying that, even though manned mission was sent on moon in 1969, but breakthrough moment was achieved when Chandrayaan found water on Moon. So, may be with technical advancement we can find more about Mars, rather than sending manned mission.
Why do we do space exploration?
The fundamental cause is “Curiosity to know” and this is basic human nature. After that, space explorations also have political projections to show power capabilities. Even it is also said that “Militarization of space” is being done and countries are making capable to themselves so that they can attack from space on each other.
But, since space is a global common, we have certain International agreement about Space and also on Mars about, what kind of exploration can be done. The ‘Federation Aeronautics International’ has established the Karman line, at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi), as the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and the outer space.
The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law, signed in 1967.
More can be found here- http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties.html
Should India move ahead with such explorations?
Day before yesterday, India has launched ASTROSAT, which is country’s first space observatory and at the same time India has become fourth country to do so.
But, at the time of MOM and in general it is always said that why India is focusing on outer space when we have still, lot of poverty and other challenges prevalent in the country. One way to look at it is when there is no water in Vidharbha why to see for it on Mars. Second way of looking is technological advancement.
We will try to see how ISRO’s projects are helping India in socio-economic development and how these projects can be helpful. Following points will make it clear:-
- Precise planning with the help of remote sensing satellites, which can help in the success of Smart city project.
- Exploration of minerals and alternative sources of energy.
- Mapping of mineral resources.
- Accurate weather forecasting, which can help farmers and coastal people in case of cyclones, etc
- Advancement in space technology also attracts Space tourism
- Communication has helped in penetration of services (health, education, etc.) to remote areas and in future it will be very important for efficient governance.
- Navigation system helps in avoiding accidents
- From Defense and security point of view also, it is very crucial.
The list is very long and we can see how directly or indirectly, our life is becoming easy day by day. Below, some list of ISRO’s projects are given, which are helping in the above mentioned benefits:
- INSAT Series – multipurpose communication and meteorological
- IRS series- Indian remote Sensing
- IRNSS – Indian regional navigation
- GSAT-7 – first Defense satellite
- RISAT – All-weather surveillance