It is true that necessity is the mother of invention but there are several other milestones achieved by the human beings during the course of evolution not due to the necessity but because of curiosity in human mind. If the human mind would have been devoid of any curiosity about the unknown, we might still be living in the Paleolithic age.
The latest Mangalyaan or the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) endeavor by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is too driven by the curiosity about the unknown in the outer space. In fact the rover sent to the Mars by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States was also named as Curiosity.
During the initial stage of Mangalyaan in the backdrop of premature death of Chandrayaan mission, there was some criticism on the ground of cost borne for such mission by a developing country like India which can use this money for various social needs like public health, removal of poverty etc.
But the truth is that such projects are more important for a developing country like India which had made us into the ranks of interplanetary nations. It is not an extravagant expenditure but an investment driven by curiosity into the unknown which may open the door of insurmountable benefits in future. Now daring to look beyond the earth into the infinite universe, India has expanded its possibilities by infinity.
After the successful insertion of MOM into the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014, India became the first country in the world to achieve such event in its very first attempt and the third one overall to do so after the US and Europe.
On November 5, 2013, MOM was launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV – C25) from ShriHari Kota in Andhra Pradesh. Apart from the success of this mission, another thing which makes every Indian proud is that it is made with mainly home grown Indian technologies. The parts of the Mangalyaan were made in small factories in India. The main foreign contribution to this mission's success has been the irreplaceable communications services of NASA's Deep Space Network, delivering Mars Orbiter Mission's messages to Earth.
It is the cheapest successful interplanetary mission ever carried out. The entire cost of the mission is USD74 million (INR453 crore) which is less than the budget of Hollywood movie ‘Gravity’ which was about USD100 million (INR 612 crore). The average cost of the mission borne by people of India is INR4.0 per person. The per kilometre cost of the mission was less than INR 7 per km, which is less than the cost of travel by an auto-rickshaw in major Indian cities.
The pride generated by Mangalyaan among Indians can be judged by the frustration caused by the mission in our western neighbor. After the success of MOM, infamous nuclear scientist of Pakistan Abdul Qadeer Khan tweeted, “India had reached Mars at a price seven times less than that of a metro bus project while Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif was enjoying his US visit spending $1 lakh per day of taxpayers' money.” In another tweet, he said, "India was once a child to us in terms of technology, but corrupt politicians arrested our scientists, closed researches on US direction." However, India received compliments as well where website of Pakistani newspaper 'Tribune Express' stated: "Congratulations to India. Really, we need to look at our neighbor and gauge where and how we have fallen behind."
The Mangalyaan will study Mars for around six months. In addition to cameras that will photograph Mars' surface, it is equipped with different instruments that will analyze the planet's atmosphere, looking for methane in particular.
Scientists believe that, if methane is present, it could be a sign of microbial life and will give some hints about the origin of life. Some previous crafts have detected traces of methane, but the Curiosity rover has failed to find any.
Thus the objective of MOM is not just to show the Indian entry into other planets but scientific investigation as well. The mission is indeed a proud moment for every Indian as it has expanded its horizons beyond our green planet and now not just sky but the universe is limit.