Zee Media Bureau
Chennai: India`s Mars Orbitter Mission, (MOM) has crossed half the total distance of its voyage to the Red Planet since it left Earth December 1, last year.
The Mars orbiter is on course and is very much along the designated helio-centric trajectory.
At exactly 09.50 am (IST), the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft crossed the mid-point of its path to Mars. It has thereby travelled 337.5 million km in its elliptical orbit around the sun, ISRO sources said.
It took four minutes and 15 seconds for a message to reach the spacecraft and return, they said.
Incidentally, the spacecraft is crossing half the total distance on its way to Mars, a day after Earth was at its closest to the red planet, in their respective orbits.
Scientists said as the mission was very much in track, it was evident with the fact that the second Trajectory Correction Manouvre (TCM) planned on the spacecraft has now been considered not necessary and is expected to be carried out only in June.
Using its Deep Space Network complemented by NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Indian space agency has been continuously monitoring the spacecraft where it said that the five scientific instruments onboard the craft were "in good health."
Periodic tests were also being done on the different levels of autonomy built into the spacecraft for managing contingencies.
“Soon, the High Gain Antenna of the spacecraft will be put in service for handling communications with the ground stations,” an ISRO statement said.
ISRO performed the first TCM on the spacecraft on December 10 last year and the remaining are scheduled in June, August and September, respectively.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, informally called Mangalyaan, was successfully launched on board PSLV C 25 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota spaceport, on November 5 last year.
With five scientific instruments on board the spacecraft, the Rs 450-crore mission intends to explore the presence of Methane in the Red Planet.
Of the total 51 missions undertaken to Mars (excluding MOM), only 21 have been successful.
MOM is India`s first interplanetary mission and, if successful, ISRO would be the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and European Space Agency.
The spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Mars on 24 September 2014.
With Agency Inputs