September 24, 2014

'MOM'entous: India makes history on first try as Mangalyaan enters Mars orbit

Published time: September 24, 2014 02:03 
Edited time: September 24, 2014 05:11 Get short URL
India has become the first nation to reach Mars on its maiden attempt after its Mars Orbiter Mission completed its 10-month journey and successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit. bit.

The Indian Space Research Organization's unmanned drone, also called Mangalyaan, was programmed by Indian engineers to fire its main engine and eight smaller thrusters for 24 minutes, starting at 0147 GMT in order to make the spacecraft's final maneuvers into Mars' orbit.

MOM is in Mars Orbit. India just became the first country to put a spacecraft into Mars orbit on its first try #MarsOrbiter@ISRO
— India Space (@India_inSpace) September 24, 2014

The spacecraft has executed the arrival sequence autonomously with engineers receiving the telemetry with 12-and-a-half minute delay at ISRO's control center in Bangalore due to the 139 million miles separating Earth and Mars.

"History has been created today," said Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. "We have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near-impossible. I congratulate all ISRO scientists as well as all my fellow Indians on this historic occasion."

On the orbit, the unnamed probe is set to study Mars' surface and scan its atmosphere for evidence of some sort of life. The probe is expected to circle Mars for six months, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from its surface. Its five scientific instruments will collect data and send it back to Earth.

The Mangalyaan is equipped with a color imaging camera, a thermal infrared spectrometer to measure the chemical composition of the surface, and instruments to assess the Mars atmosphere, including a methane detector.

Lighter than 'Gravity': Why the world should take note of India's Mars mission

The Mars Orbiter Mission, a low-cost $74 million project, blasted off from Earth on November 5, 2013, aboard an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. At its initial stage, the rocket booster placed the probe into Earth's orbit before the craft fired the engines to break free of Earth's gravity en route to Mars.

This is India's first mission into such deep space to search for evidence of life on the Red Planet. But the mission's primary objective is technological – if successful, the country will be joining an elite club of nations: the United States, Russia and Europe.

History has been created by our scientists", said PM Narendra Modi in his speech immediately after the scientists declared the mission a success. "We have dared to reach out to the unknown."

"When our cricketers win a tournament, we celebrate in a big way. What these scientists have achieved is thousand times bigger," he added.

Earlier, there were some tense moments at the Indian Space and Research Organisation (Isro), which commanded a series of tricky manoeuvres to position the spacecraft in its designated orbit around Mars.

The insertion started at 4.17am when the spacecraft switched over to the medium gain antenna for providing  the communication link during the insertion. At 6.56am, the spacecraft  initiated the process of forward rotation, reducing its speed. 

Read: Knew MOM will be a success, says PM Modi

At 7.17am, the scientists had to grapple with the most critical moment — when the liquid apogee motor had to be fired. The motor was woken up for four seconds on Monday during a test-fire after 300 days of long sleep.

The motor was fired for 24 minutes, reducing the velocity of the spacecraft  by 4.2km per second in relation to Mars. This was soon followed by  moments of tension and anxiety when the communication broke as the spacecraft slipped  behind Mars as the  scientists waited for the  good news. 

At 7.45am, the occult ended and after two minutes, communication with the spacecraft resumed and data was flashed about the performance of the liquid apogee motor.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  congratulated Isro scientists after the mission met with success.

Through your brilliance, and hard work, you have made it a habit, of achieving the impossible: PM to @isro scientists

— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 24, 2014


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