Bangalore, September 24, 2014
India scripted history on Wednesday when its Mars Orbiter, Mangalyaan, slipped into its designated orbit around the Red Planet after a tricky 24-minute manoeuvre during which the spacecraft was slowed down by 1099 metres per second.
India's maiden Mars mission successful
India today scripted space history when its Mars Orbiter, Mangalyaan, slipped into its designated elliptical orbit around the Red Planet after a tricky 24-minute manoeuvre during which the spacecraft was slowed down by 1099 metres per second.
With the successful entry of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft into the Martian orbit, India has joined an elite club of a few space powers who have explored the Red Planet, after Russia, the United States and Europe.
It has also become the first country to achieve success in its Mars mission on its very first attempt. Of the 51 missions to Mars launched by various agencies, only 21 have succeeded so far.
"Spacecraft successfully enters Martian orbit," a post on ISRO's website said, confirming, after 12.5 nerve-wracking minutes, that India had made the leap.
The historic achievement came 300 days after MOM, India's first inter-planetary probe, was launched onboard Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) on November 5, 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 90 km from Chennai, on the east coast of the country and at the end of a 690 million km space odyssey.
In preparation for today's Mars Orit Insertion (MOI) manoeuvre, the spacecraft changed to its medium gain antenna at 0417 hours IST. At 0656 hours, the forward rotation started.
Even as Mangalyaan went into the shadow of Mars because of an eclipse at 0712 hours, the burn of its 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM), along with eight smaller liquid engines, started at 07:17:32 hours for a duration of 1388.67 seconds.
Because of the Mars-Sun-Earth geometry, the orbit insertion was destined to happen while MOM was in eclipse and when it was dependent on its batery for all the power required.
Scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) here got confirmation of all the events only after about 12.5 minutes because of the time delay in communication, given the huge distance involved. The confirmation of each event was greeted with loud applause by the scientists and others present.
"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," an ISRO press release said later.
In this orbit, the spacecraft takes 72 hours 51 minutes 51 seconds to go round Mars once.
"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," the release added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived at the mission control centre here around 0700 hours, was among the several dignitaries present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Modi congratulated the space scientists on their achievement.
"Indian scientists, through their hard work and dedication, have stretched the boundaries of human enterprise and imagination," he said.
Mr Modi said the Mars Orbiter Mission was an indigenous pan-Indian effort, stretching from Bangalore to Bhubaneswar, and Faridabad to Rajkot.
"The hunger of exploration and the thrill of discovery are not for the faint hearted," he said.
He said he had chosen to be present at ISRO today, unmindful of success or failure of the mission. He exhorted the scientists to set even more challenging targets for themselves, and said he had confidence that they would be able to achieve even those targets.
"You have made a habit of achieving the impossible," he said.
Mr Modi said the success of the space programme was a shining symbol of what India was capable of as a nation.
"A successful space programme generates applications across multiple domains," he said.
He said the efforts of India`s space scientists were deepening India's governance, strengthening its economy and improving people's lives.
Noting that the whole nation celebrates when its cricket team wins a tournament, the Prime Minister described the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission as a thousand times greater achievement and said all Indians must celebrate the success of the country's space scientists today.
"Let India celebrate the achievements of its scientists. Let students in every school and college applaud their efforts," he added.
Others present included Union Ministers D V Sadananda Gowda, Ananth Kumar and Jitendra Singh, Karnataka Governor Chief Minister H Siddaramaiah, eminent scientist Yash Pal and former ISRO Chairman U R Rao were amongst those present.
Current ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan went around the control centre, congratulating all the scientists on the momentous achievement, as soon as confirmation was received about the success of the MOI manoeuvre.
Earlier, two days ago, on September 22, MOM cleared a crucial test when its main liquid engine was successfully test-fired and the spacecraft underwent its fourth trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM), ahead of its historic tryst with the Red Planet.
ISRO scientists test-fired the main liquid engine, which was lying dormant during the 300-day journey to Mars, for 3.968 seconds at 1430 hours on September 22, consuming 0.567 kg of fuel.
This operation of the spacecraft’s main liquid engine was also used for the spacecraft’s trajectory correction and changing its velocity by 2.18 metre/second.
The successful test firing meant that the Mars Orbit Insertion operation could go ahead as scheduled today.
Earlier on September 22, the orbiter had entered the sphere of influence of Mars and the propellant lines were enabled for orbit insertion.
ISRO scientists had uploaded the necessary commands for MOI on September 14 and verified them on the following day.
Last month, ISRO did not carry out the TCM planned for August because it was not required as Mangalyaan was closely following is trajectory.
On July 3, the spacecraft had crossed the three-fourths mark of the journey to Mars.
On December 1, ISRO scientists had successfully conducted the Trans Mars Injection manoeuvre, setting it on course for Mars through a heliocentric trajectory.
Soon after the spacecraft crossed the sphere of influence of Earth, a TCM was performed successfully on December 11. As the spacecraft was on its designated trajectory, the TCM planned for April was not considered essential and the next one was carried out on June 11 by firing its 22 Newton thrusters for a duration of 16 seconds.
One of the main objectives of the first Indian mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
The technical objectives include design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.
They also include deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management and incorporation of autonomous features to handle contingency situations.
The scientific objectives of the mission include exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
The orbiter craft is carrying five payloads, including Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Martian Exospheric Neutral Composition Explorer (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and TIR Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).
See News Videos