Control room: Inside India's mission to Mars

AUTHOR: Inavate
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (far left), watching the visuals from the audience area at the control room.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission was launched on November 5, 2013 and on September 24, 2014 the probe successfully entered Mars’ orbit. Hurrairah bin Sohail explores what went into two control rooms that managed the mission.

India’s Mars OrbiterMission was launched on November 5, 2013 and on September 24, 2014 the probesuccessfully entered Mars’ orbit. Hurrairah bin Sohail explores what went intoto two control rooms that managed the mission.

Ashish Shah from Kiran Infosystems explains the scope of the project: “The end-user wanted to utilize the control rooms during the launch as well as for monitoring purposes without any glitches.” He further goes on to detail the brief: “Every viewer sitting in front of his console should be able to view data and video uniformly on the large screen displays. This includes the dignitaries and VVIPs who visit during launch.”

The AV systems were designed by Kiran Infosystems and Shah talks about some of the specific objectives kept in mind when planning: “The room had a specific area allotted for projection and the audience area will be illuminated all the time. Rear projection was the objective with no hotspots. The control rooms should also work 24/7, 365 days a year for mission critical use.”

Projectiondesign projectors along with DNP wide angle projection screens were used to handle the visuals. Rear Projection structures from RP Visuals with mirror arrangement and cradles were used to house the projections. These are also grouted to withstand minor tremors of earthquakes.

Shah explains the setup to deliver visuals further: “Projection design projectors are illuminating the DNP screens through mirrors which were 96 percent reflective to properly reflect and refract light into the audience area. The setup comprises of 120-inch screens in seamless 1 by 6 format.”

The installation for the projection system was not without its challenges. Shah narrates: “There were air-conditioning ducts passing through the area where we had to install the rear projection structures. The mechanical expertise of Kiran Infosystems helped to work around this situation.”

Additionally the delivery of the visual system was not an easy task. Shah explains: “We had to mount the screens seamlessly at a height of four meters from the floor. This required mechanical skill to put all the screens in the overall assembly with almost zero gap. Getting the workstations besides each other required perfect pixel alignment electronically on the screen.”

The content and data to be displayed is received by the workstations from the ground stations located in various countries. These ground stations receive satellite data through the deep space network antennas when the satellite is in range. RGB Spectrum MediaWall controller has been utilized to help manage the display sources from the workstations.

Shah elaborates: “RGB Spectrum MediaWall controller provided inputs from the workstations through a switcher. The MediaWall controller provides various layouts to provide scientists with the data they need to monitor and analyse. MediaWall helped stretch the images seamlessly across two screens to give a bigger and better view of the data or video.”

Kiran Infosystems has also been tasked with the duties to provide technical support as desired by the customer. In conclusion Shah states: “With changes in technology, we always look forward to providing latest possible projection systems and more pixels on their (ISRO) screens to carry out detailed monitoring and to better analyse their data and video.”