India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft successfully entered into an orbit around planet Mars today morning (September 24, 2014) by firing its 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) along with eight smaller liquid engines. This Liquid Engines firing operation which began at 07:17:32 Hrs IST lasted for 1388.67 seconds which changed the velocity of the spacecraft by 1099 metre/sec. With this operation, the spacecraft entered into an elliptical orbit around Mars. Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, was present at ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore to witness this important event. Other dignitaries who were present at ISTRAC include His Excellency Governor of Karnataka, Mr Vajubhai R Vala, Hon’ble Minister of Railways, Mr D V Sadananda Gowda, Hon’ble Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mr Ananth Kumar, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr Siddaramaiah, Hon’ble Minister of State (Space), Dr Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr G M Siddeswara, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Mr Prahlad V Joshi, Hon’ble Minister of Transport, Government of Karnataka, Mr Ramalinga Reddy and Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Government of Karnataka, Mr Muniraju S. Prof U R Rao, former chairman, ISRO and Prof Yash Pal, former director, Space Applications Centre, were also 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. In this orbit, the spacecraft takes 72 hours 51 minutes 51 seconds to go round the Mars once.
Mars Orbiter Spacecraft was launched on-board India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV on November 05, 2013 into a parking orbit around the Earth. On December 01, 2013, following Trans Mars Injection (TMI) manoeuvre, the spacecraft escaped from orbiting the earth and followed a path that would allow it to encounter Mars on September 24, 2014.
With today’s successful Mars Orbit Insertion operation, ISRO has become the fourth space agency to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars orbit. 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.