Published On: Thu, Nov 7th, 2013

India’s Mars Mission on track; orbit to be raised on Thursday

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New Delhi: India has joined the big league – United States, Russia and France – with the successful launch of its most ambitious project the Mars Orbiter Mission ‘Mangalyaan’. The mission is a significant milestone in the field of interplanetary exploration despite the fact that the mission has completed only the first stage of its 300-day and 780 million kilometre long space odyssey.

In its first stage, the Mars Orbiter spacecraft was successfully placed in the elliptical orbit around Earth, 44 minutes after blast-off from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh on November 5.

The scientists are keeping their fingers crossed, as for them the quest of exploring the Red planet has just begun.

According to ISRO the mission has been going smooth so far.

In the next few days, starting November 7, ISRO will carry out six crucial orbit raising operations.

“Since its injection into Earth’s orbit yesterday, it has been functioning smoothly on the orbit. We are planning to perform orbit raising manoeuvres in the early hours of tomorrow (Thursday),” an ISRO spokesman was quoted as saying.

On Wednesday morning ISRO carried out the rehearsal for the orbit raising activities without switching on the motor.

The orbiter will stay in the Earth’s orbit for 20-25 days trying to build up necessary velocity to break free from our planet’s gravitational pull.

On December 1, the second phase – the crucial trans-Mars injection would be carried out to enable the orbiter to leave Earth’s sphere of influence for a 300 day journey to Mars. This stage will be crucial as most satellites sent to Mars have failed to leave the Earth orbits.

If everything goes as planned the orbiter will enter Mar’s orbit on September 24, 2014.

ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan accepting the complexity of the inter-planetary exploration said that out of 51 missions by the US, Russia and Europe, 21 have failed so far and for India to have the orbiter go around the Mars itself would be a mark of success.

Another limitation of the mission is that none of the instruments will be able to send back enough data to answer question regarding the Red planet definitely.

The ambitions project has also draw criticism from many who have questioned the need to spend Rs 450 crore on a space mission in a country that fails to meet the basic necessities of more than half of its population.

Former ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair has termed the Mars Mission as utter non-sense, saying that the space agency is trying to fool the nation by claiming to find methane on Mars despite NASA publicly claiming to have found no trace of it on the planet.

India-born scientist with NASA Amitabha Ghosh also criticised the mission saying that ISRO will only be accomplishing what NASA has in the 1960s and 70s. “It will hardly be a novel accomplishment in the world of technology. ISRO need not recreate what has already been done,” Ghosh wrote in an article.

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