Chennai: As India's Mars orbiter nears its destination, scientists at ISRO are gearing to undertake a "challenging task" on September 24 when they would restart the onboard liquid engine, which has been in sleep mode for nearly ten months, for a critical manoeuvre of the spacecraft.
"Mars Orbiter Mission's (MOM) next big challenge... bringing the liquid engine alive for Mars Orbit insertion after 297 days of sleep. Thirty days to go," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a post today on its official social media page.
Elaborating, ISRO's Director Publications and Public Relations Devi Prasad Karnik said it will be "real challenge" as the scientists would try operating the liquid engine after it was in "sleep mode" or "silent mode" in space.
"Last time when it (engine) functioned was on December 1 (2013). The liquid engine will be brought alive for reducing the velocity of the spacecraft and for the insertion of spacecraft into the orbit of MARS", he told.
"This will be done on September 24 at 7.30 am," he said.
During the December 1 manoeuvre, the liquid engine was fired for about 22 minutes providing a velocity increment of 648 meters/second to the spacecraft, placing it in the Mars Transfer Trajectory, marking the end of Earth orbiting phase.
Last week, ISRO said the MOM was just nine million KM away from Mars and would reach the red planet in 33 days.
The Rs 450-crore project, named Mangalyan, was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on November 5 last year with an aim to reach the red planet's atmosphere by September 24.
The project is expected to provide the scientific community better opportunities in planetary research.