Recent and Future Space Missions

SPACE: Recent and Future Missions

Recent and Future Space Missions


1. Launch vehicles – Seven successful launch vehicle missions and two successful advanced launch vehicle technology initiatives of ISRO i.e. the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) and SCRAMJET technology demonstrator.

2. Satellite – 8 ISRO satellites, 4 student satellites and 22 foreign satellites were launched by these missions.

3. Space exploration domains – Mars Orbiter Spacecraft of India completed two years in its orbit around Mars and India’s ASTROSAT multi-wavelength observatory successfully completed one year in orbit.

Mars Orbiter Mission: India’s first inter-planetary mission completed two years in its orbit around Mars. The health parameters of Mars Orbiter spacecraft are normal and all the five payloads are sending useful data. The Mars Colour Camera has produced more than 530 images so far. ISRO has also launched MOM Announcement of Opportunity (AO) programmes for researchers in the country to use the MOM data for R&D. The success of Mars Orbiter Mission has showcased India’s technical capability in exploring planetary bodies and has motivated India’s student and research community in a big way.

ASTROSAT Mission: Astrosat is a multi-wavelength astronomy mission on an IRS-class satellite into a near-Earth, equatorial orbit. ASTROSAT has completed one year in orbit as of September 2016.  An Announcement of Opportunity (AO) was made in June 2016 for Indian researchers to explore the universe using data from ASTROSAT.

Multi Application Solar Telescope: The Multi Application Solar Telescope (MAST) will be used for detailed observation of the solar activity. The MAST will usher the country to a vast amount of astronomical information that is owned only by a few countries in the world.

The MAST is located in the Udaipur Solar Observatory which comes under the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), an autonomous unit of the Department of Space.

The project was under by Union Ministry of Science and Technology and was funded by Department of Space (DoS).

The USO is situated on an island like land form in Lake Fatehsagar of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. The site is ideal for the observatory as it provides 250 days of sunlight in a year.

The lake will help provide the optimum temperature for the lens and also decreases the turbulence in the air mass. Considering the amount of magnification involved, lesser turbulence will result in improved image quality.

The telescope’s main motive is to capture high resolution 3D images of the Sun’s surface and observing phenomena like solar flares. It will also be used to study seismic effects of solar flares.


IRNSS: India’s Navigation system

• IRNSS is an Independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India.

• The NAVIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) system consist of a constellation of 3 satellites in Geostationary orbit (GEO), 4 satellites inGeosynchronous orbit (GSO), approximately 36,000 kilometers (22,000 mi) altitude above earth surface,and two satellites on the ground as stand-by, in addition to ground stations.

• It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 Km from its boundary, which is its primary service area.

• IRNSS provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorized users.

• The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 metres in the primary service area.

Applications of IRNSS are:
• Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation
• Disaster Management
• Vehicle tracking and fleet management
• Integration with mobile phones
• Precise Timing
• Mapping and Geodetic data capture
• Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers
• Visual and voice navigation for drivers

GAGAN- Geo Augmented Navigation System

• GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation ‘‘GAGAN’’ is an augmentation system to enhance the accuracy and integrity of GPS signals to meet precision approach requirements in Civil Aviation and is being implemented jointly by AAI and ISRO.

• It will augment GPS signals over the Indian land mass, the Bay of Bengal, South East Asia, the Middle East and the Arabian Sea widening its reach up to Africa. At present radio navigation aids are used for precision landing and approaches at Indian airports.

• The objective of GAGAN to establish, deploy and certify satellite based augmentation system for safety-of-life civil aviation applications in India has been successfully completed. The system is inter-operable with other international SBAS systems like US-WAAS, European EGNOS, and Japanese MSAS etc.

• The goal is to provide navigation system for all phases of flight over the Indian airspace and in the adjoining areas.

• Improved efficiency
• Increased fuel savings
• Direct routes
• Reduced work load of flight crew and air traffic controllers
• Improved safety
• Ease of search and rescue operation


Solar Mission- ADITYA

• ADITYA-1 is the 1st Indian space based Solar Coronagraph intended to study the outermost region of the sun called ‘Corona’. The project will increase our understanding about the Sun.

• The Temperature of the solar corona goes beyond million degrees. From the ground, the Corona could be seen only during total solar eclipses mainly due to the bright solar disc and the scattering of the sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere. One has to go beyond the atmosphere to be able to mask the bright solar disc and study the Corona.

Objectives of the Mission: The major scientific objectives of Aditya-1 are to achieve a fundamental understanding of the physical processes that –

– Heat the solar corona
– Accelerate the Solar Wind
– Produce Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

Aries (Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences)

• On March 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel unveiled Asia’s largest optical telescope in Nainital, Uttarakhand from Brussels, Belgium. “Even the sky is not the limit for the ARIES Telescope” said Modi after launching the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences or ARIES project.

Project ARIES
• ARIES telescope is a joint collaboration between Indian, Russian, and Belgian scientists.
• The total cost of the construction and setup of the telescope is estimated to be Rs 120 crore.
• The telescope is located at Devasthal, Nainital at a height of 2,500 metres.
• It is said that the site was chosen to get a clear view of the sky.
• The ARIES optical telescope’s mirror is 3.6 metres (360 centimetres) in diameter.
• The high end technology incorporated in the telescope enables it to be operated with the help of remote control from anywhere in the world.
• The telescope will be used in the study and exploration of planets, starts, magnetic field and astronomical debris.
• The scientists will also help in research of the structures of stars and magnetic field structures of stars.
• In March 2007, the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences and Belgian company Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS) had entered a contract for design, manufacture, integration, testing, supply, and installation of the telescope.

Gadanki Ionospheric Radar Interferometer (GIRI)

• The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has installed the GadankiIonospheric Radar Interferometer (GIRI) Radar System near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. It was installed at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), which is an autonomous research institute of the Department of Space (DoS).

Primary objective:

– Carry out unattended observations for studying the forces from the sun like variation in solar flare, solar flux and magnetic storm on the ionospheric irregularities.
– Studies unattended observations from the underneath atmosphere on the ionospheric irregularities (for e.g. waves generated by weather phenomena).
– Provide important information about the angular location of plasma irregularities during the onset phase.
– Also establish its relationship to background ionospheric state parameters and sunset terminator.


– Investigations made using this system are expected to improve the Equatorial Plasma Bubble (EPB) forecasting. It will further be detrimental for satellite based navigation/communication applications.

Neutrino Observatory

• The Government of India’s Union Cabinet recently approved the India-based Neutrino Observatory project.

• A pioneer in the field of neutrino science, India was a world leader in 1965. In the mid-1990s, with the closing of the Kolar Gold Fields which was the site of the experiments, experimental neutrino research in India came to a halt, and the INO is expected to revive the lost advantage,

• The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.

The project includes

a) Construction of an underground laboratory and associated surface facilities at Pottipuram in Bodi West hills of Theni District of Tamil Nadu,
b) Construction of a Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrinos, consisting of 50000 tons of magnetized iron plates arranged in stacks with gaps in between where Resistive Plate Chambers (rpcs) would be inserted as active detectors, the total number of 2m X 2m rpcs being around 29000, and
c) Setting up of National Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai, for the operation and maintenance of the underground laboratory, human resource development and detector R&D along with its applications.

• The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos. There is a hierarchy among the masses of these three types of neutrino and the experiments at the INO will study this mass ordering using a magnetised iron calorimeter (ICAL)

• However there are concerns about the nature of neutrinos themselves — whether the experiment will use artificially manufactured neutrino beams and on the safety to humans and the environment if such neutrinos are used. There are also concerns regarding the stability of mountain region if tunnel is dunged.



What are Gravitational Waves (GW)?
• Gravitational waves are ripples in the space time curvaturetraveling outward from the source produced by violent events such as collision of 2 black holes or by supernova explosion

• They are produced by accelerating masses just the same as accelerating charged particles produce radio waves (electrons in antennas).

• GW is akin to Electromagnetic Waves (EM) waves, but emitted by gravitating bodies in motion such as black holes, spiraling towards each other in binary orbits.

• Can penetrate regions of space that EM have no reach.
• Gravitational waves are hypothesize to arise from cosmic inflation (expansion of universe after big bang)

• Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory is large scale collaboration between scientists of MIT, Caltech and other institutions.

• Founded in 1992 aimed at detecting the gravitational waves that were once predicted by Einstein and also validate this general theory of relativity.

• For the first time, scientists at LIGO have observed ripples in the fabric of space time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

India’s Gravitational Wave Observatory (IndiGO)
• INDIGO is the country’s own laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory for cosmology research. It’s in collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US.

• The project will build an Advanced LIGO Observatory in India, a move that will significantly improve the ability of scientists to pinpoint the sources of gravitational waves and analyze the signals.

Thirty Meter Telescope Project

• The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is an international project being funded by scientific organizations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.The project expected to start construction on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2015.

• However, it is now stalled due to the recent decision of the Supreme court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds.

• The State of Hawaii agencies are working on the permit process following the prescribed procedure by the court. TMT is pursuing the matter in consultation with the University of Hawaii ( land lease holder) and other agencies.

• TMT continues to respect the rights of the indigenous peoples of Hawaii as it seeks to construct TMT on Mauna Kea which is the preferred choice.

• Given the large investments that have already been made and committed, some of the project partners are also looking at alternate sites both in the northern and southern hemispheres. It is expected that on-site civil work on the project may be delayed by about 18-24 months. However, work on telescope and observatory subsystems continues across the partnership

India, NASA join hands for astrobiology mission

• India and NASA has collaborated for mission for finding the life over mars and future astrobiology missions.

• After its first successful and low cost mission to the Mars NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) along with Mars society of Australia and Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow will be mounting an expedition towards the Ladakh which is being found to have similar topography and microbial life as that of Mars.

• This is the first time that India is part of the Spaceward Bound programme. The Spaceward Bound is a NASA project that educates future space explorers and funds expeditions to places with extreme climate conditions.

• Before Ladakh, there have been expeditions to the deserts such in Atacama, Chile; Mojave, California; Arkaroola, Australia as well as the Arctic and Antarctica, organised since 2006.