ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Lal Crater on Mars


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mars Craters, IAU

Why in the News?

Back2Basics: International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  • The IAU was founded on July 28, 1919, during the Constitutive Assembly held in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Its creation was prompted by the need for international collaboration in astronomy, especially after the devastation caused by World War I.
  • It aims to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.
  • IAU is now headquartered in Paris, France.

Major Activities and Initiatives

  • General Assembly: The IAU holds a general assembly every three years in varying parts of the world at which professional astronomers meet to discuss research, new cooperative ventures, and similar matters of professional interest.
  • Astronomical Nomenclature: IAU standardises the nomenclature of celestial bodies, features, and phenomena. It maintains several working groups dedicated to naming conventions for stars, planets, asteroids, and other objects.
  • Research and Collaboration: It promotes international cooperation in astronomical research and supports initiatives such as observational campaigns, data sharing, and joint projects.
  • Education and Outreach: It is actively involved in promoting astronomy education and public outreach efforts worldwide. It supports educational programs, workshops, and resources for students, teachers, and the general public.


  1. IAU membership spans 92 countries. Out of those countries, 85 are National Members.
  2. India is represented by the Astronomical Society of India (ASI).
  3. Its members are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the D. level and beyond, who are active in professional research, education, and outreach in astronomy.

Crater Names and Significance

  • Lal Crater: Named after Prof. Devendra Lal, former director of PRL, this 65 km wide crater is positioned at -20.98° and 209.34°.
  • Mursan Crater: Named after a town in Uttar Pradesh, India, this ~10 km wide crater is situated on the eastern side of the Lal crater’s rim.
  • Hilsa Crater: Named after a town in Bihar, India, this ~10 km wide crater is positioned on the western side of the Lal crater’s rim.

Scientific Importance of Lal Crater

  • Lava Coverage: The entire Lal crater area, located in the Tharsis volcanic region on Mars, is covered with lava.
  • Evidence of Water: Geophysical evidence, including a 45-meter thick sedimentary deposit, suggests the presence of water in the subsurface of the Lal crater. This finding supports the theory that Mars once had water flowing on its surface.
  • Infilling Process: Mursan and Hilsa craters, positioned on either side of the Lal crater, offer insights into the infilling process of the Lal crater. Their presence indicates that infilling occurred episodically over time.

India’s 2nd Quest for Mars

  • The ISRO is expected to launch Mangalyaan-2, or Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM 2), in 2025.
  • The mission will last one year and is aimed at studying the Red Planet.
  • The successor to Mangalyaan-1, or Mars Orbiter Mission 1 (MOM 1), Mangalyaan-2 will consist of only one orbiter and will be launched atop a GSLV Mark III rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

Other missions to Mars

  • ExoMars rover (2022): European Space Agency’s mission to explore Mars.
  • Tianwen-1 (2021): China’s Mars Mission aims to explore and study the Martian surface.
  • UAE’s Hope Mars Mission (2021): UAE’s first interplanetary mission focused on studying the Martian atmosphere.
  • NASA’s Mars Insight (2018): A lander designed to study the interior of Mars.
  • NASA’s Curiosity (2012) and Perseverance (2020): Rovers exploring the Martian surface.
  • NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005), Mars Odyssey (2001), and MAVEN (2013): Orbiters studying Mars from space.
  • Mars 2 and Mars 3 (1971): Soviet Union’s missions to Mars, which included orbiter and lander components.



[2016] The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO

  1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission.
  2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
  3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit Mars in its very first attempt.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

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