Chennai: Two days after successfully injecting its Mars Orbiter into trans-Mars trajectory, ISRO revealed that a thunderstorm in South Africa, which struck above a ground station identified to track the "crucial moment" had resulted in a five minute delay in following the Indian mission.
"Seconds before the firing of the liquid engine for the crucial Trans-Mars injection on Sunday, a thunderstorm struck the Hartebeesthoek (HBK) ground station in South Africa, which was identified for monitoring this operation," ISRO said in its official and interactive social networking page.
"This resulted in a data loss, leading to a five minute delay in the confirmation of firing. The on board computer dexterously handled the operations as planned and the liquid engine too performed flawlessly injecting India into interplanetary space," the facebook page, which is a big hit among space enthusiasts, said last night.
ISRO`s Mars Orbiter, which was placed in inter-Mars trajectory in the early hours on Sunday, has crossed Moon`s orbit of around 3.8 lakh km and is travelling beyond Earth`s natural satellite and had travelled a total distance of over 5.36 lakh km as of 5 PM yesterday.
The Mars Orbiter Mission had ventured out of Earth`s sphere of influence, beginning its 300-day journey to the Red planet, marking a major milestone in India`s space history.
ISRO performed the trans-Mars injection, a `crucial event` intended to hurl its Mars Orbiter spacecraft into the planned orbit around the sun at around 00.49 hours on Sunday.
It has planned four mid-course corrections in case of any deviation along its path to the Martian orbit before its expected arrival in the orbit of the Red planet in Sept 2014.
It had performed five orbit-raising manoeuvres on its Mars Orbiter, raising the Apogee (farthest point from Earth) of the spacecraft to over 1.92 lakh km before it performed the `mother of all slingshots.`
The spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu.
ISRO`s PSLV C 25 injected the 1,350-kg `Mangalyaan` Orbiter into orbit around Earth about 44 minutes after launch at 2.38 PM from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Nov 5, marking the successful completion of the first stage of the Rs 450crore mission.