Zee Media Bureau/Liji Varghese
New Delhi: India`s first interplanetary mission completes 100 days of its voyage towards Mars today.
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, was launched into Earth orbit on board indigenous PSLV-C25 rocket at 02:38pm (0908 GMT) on November 5, 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The orbiter which is on a 300-day journey will cover over 680 million km in an elliptical orbit and is expected to reach the Red planet on September 24, 2014. The spacecraft has travelled 190 million km so far.
“The spacecraft health is normal. The spacecraft is continuously monitored by the ground station of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), located at Byalalu, near Bangalore. Except for a 40 minute break in the Telemetry data received from the spacecraft to the ground station, data has been continuously available for all the 100 days,” ISRO said in a statement.
The propulsion system of the spacecraft is configured for Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCMs) and the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) Operation. On February 6, 2014, all the five payloads on Mars Orbiter spacecraft were switched `ON` to check their health.
“The health parameters of all the payloads are normal. Presently, the spacecraft is at a radio distance of 16 million km causing a one way communication delay of approximately 55 seconds. After travelling the remaining distance of about 490 million km over the next 210 days, the spacecraft would be inserted into the Martian Orbit on September 24, 2014,” the agency said.
The 350-tonne launch vehicle which orbited Earth for nearly a month ventured out of the planet’s sphere of influence on December 01, 2013, following six orbit raising manoeuvres.
The first TCM was conducted on December 11, 2013. Three more TCM operations are planned around April 2014, August 2014 and September 2014.
“The trajectory of the spacecraft, till today, is as expected,” the agency added.
The Rs 450 crore mission - if successful - will allow ISRO to join an elite group of space explorers to Mars along with United States’ NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos and the Europe`s space agency. The success of the mission will also make India the first Asian nation to have achieved the feat.
The objectives of the mission are to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission and also to study the Martian surface and atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.