25Sep2014

India Becomes First Country To Enter Mars’ Orbit

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft successfully entered into an orbit around planet Mars today morning (September 24) by firing its Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) along with eight smaller liquid engines.

This Liquid Engines firing operation lasted for 1388.67 seconds which changed the velocity of the spacecraft by 1099 metre/sec. With this operation, the spacecraft entered into an elliptical orbit around Mars. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and other dignitaries were present at ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore to witness this important event. The success of India’s successful mission to Mars “will go down as landmark in history”, Modi said. India became the first Asian country to reach the Red Planet and the first country to successfully get a spacecraft into the Martian orbit on its maiden attempt.

“History has been created today,” Modi added. “India is the only country, to have succeeded in its very first attempt.” Before India, various countries have launched Mars missions, but out of the 51 attempts, only 21 were successful. India now joins the Martian club that comprises the US, Russia and the European Space Agency. Mars Orbiter Insertion was carried out automatically by commands loaded onto the spacecraft. The spacecraft had entered the Martian neighbourhood on Monday.

Indian scientists and engineers from the Indian Space Research Organisation monitoring th

Indian scientists and engineers from the Indian Space Research Organisation monitoring the mission. Source: AFP

“Today MOM has met Mangal (Mars). Today Mangal has got MOM. The time this mission was short named as MOM, I was sure that MOM won’t disappoint us,” Modi said, declaring the mission’s success after nerve-wracking final moments at ISRO’s command centre. “Howdy @MarsCuriosity ? Keep in touch. I’ll be around.” This is how the Indian spacecraft greeted NASA’s curiosity rover as it entered the orbit of Mars. As the Mangalyaan was travelling through the celestial space, back on earth, ISRO ensured that it kept every bit of information regarding this historical flight in public domain powered by an engaging and informative social media strategy.

“We congratulate the Indian Space Research Organisation for its successful arrival at Mars with the Mars Orbiter Mission,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. “It was an impressive engineering feat, and we welcome India to the family of nations studying another facet of the Red Planet. We look forward to MOM adding to the knowledge the international community is gathering with the other spacecraft at Mars.”

At the time of MOM’s orbital insertion, its signals took about 12 minutes and 28 seconds to reach Earth where it was received by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) Stations in Canberra, Australia and Goldstone which relayed the data in real time to ISRO’s station in Bangalore.

Credit: ISRO

At Canberra, just after the Mars orbiter signal was acquired, India’s deputy high commissioner Mr Surinder Kumar Datta and first secretary Tarun Kumar were congratulated by Canberra DSN Director Dr Ed Kruzins on the mission’s success. The first sign of success on the very last leg came when ISRO announced that the burn of engines on India’s Mars orbiter had been confirmed.

“All engines of Mars orbiter are going strong. Burn confirmed,” ISRO said as it signalled history in the making. Igniting the main engine was critical as it had been lying dormant for about 300 days and was only woken up briefly for four seconds on Monday. A failure could have pushed the Orbiter into the deep depths of space.

Much of the spacecraft’s manoeuvre took place behind Mars as seen from Earth. That means that from a point four minutes into the burn being employed till three minutes after the scheduled end of the manoeuvre, teams on Earth had no view of the spacecraft’s progress.

The Orbiter will keep moving in an elliptical path for at least six months with its instruments sending their gleanings back home. The 1,350 kg spacecraft is equipped with five instruments, including a sensor to track methane or marsh gas, a colour camera and a thermal imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the red planet.

“Images are clicked. Data is downloaded. Process is going on,” a top Isro official said in the evening when asked whether the spacecraft has taken pictures of the Mars surface. The spacecraft structure and propulsion hardware configurations are similar to Chandrayaan 1, which was country’s first successful robotic lunar probe. Specific improvements and upgrades were made for a Mars specific mission.

Indian school children pose for photographs with a poster of Mars Orbiter Mission satellite as they celebrate its success in Chennai, India, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. India triumphed in its first interplanetary mission, placing a satellite into orbit around Mars on Wednesday and catapulting the country into an elite club of deep-space explorers. (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K)

Indian school children pose for photographs with a poster of Mars Orbiter Mission satellite as they celebrate its success in Chennai, India, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. India triumphed in its first interplanetary mission, placing a satellite into orbit around Mars on Wednesday and catapulting the country into an elite club of deep-space explorers. (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K)

The Rs 450-crore MOM Mangalyaan is the cheapest inter- planetary mission that, at just USD 74 million, costs less than the estimated USD 100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster “Gravity” and a tenth of NASA’s Mars mission Maven that entered the Martian orbit on September 22. “Our scientists have achieved this at a cost which is lesser than some Hollywood movies,” Modi said.

The events related to Mars Orbit Insertion progressed satisfactorily and the spacecraft performance was normal. The Spacecraft is now circling Mars in an orbit whose nearest point to Mars (periapsis) is at 421.7 km and farthest point (apoapsis) at 76,993.6 km. The inclination of orbit with respect to the equatorial plane of Mars is 150 degree, as intended. In this orbit, the spacecraft takes 72 hours 51 minutes 51 seconds to go round the Mars once.

Mars Orbiter Spacecraft was launched on-board India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV on November 05, 2013 into a parking orbit around the Earth. On December 01, 2013, following Trans Mars Injection (TMI) manoeuvre, the spacecraft escaped from orbiting the earth and followed a path that would allow it to encounter Mars on September 24, 2014. In the coming weeks, the spacecraft will be thoroughly tested in the Mars orbit and the systematic observation of that planet using its five scientific instruments would begin.

Meanwhile, ISRO’s scientists are already planning new missions, including putting a rover on the Moon. But space agency chief K Radhakrishnan said their main focus would be to continue developing technologies for commercial and navigational satellite applications.

Complimenting his former colleagues for demonstrating the capability to launch a probe to Mars on a shoe string budget, Dr. Kasturirangan, former chairman of ISRO, said that the agency should not miss opportunities for interplanetary studies in future. He also added that Isro has developed technologies for communication over millions of kms, and built an orbiter which has withstood extremely high levels of radiation during its ten month journey to Mars.

“ISRO should join global expeditions to explore the solar system because the organization has established a good infrastructure on the ground and trained scientists and engineers,” he added. The former space agency chief said such constant forays into outer space would be essential for the country which is on course to emerge as the third largest economic power by 2030.

Credit: ISRO,

Read previous post:
Enter To Explore Mini
Women in Space – Inspirational Biographies

Men often outnumber women working in aviation. Even though this...

Spotting Satellites – Just For Fun

Spotting satellites brings back memories from my childhood. One of...

Elevator
Japanese Plans For A Space Elevator Up And Running By 2050

Once the realm of science fiction, a Japanese company has...

Close