India’s Mars Orbiter Mission on track, 14.4 million km away from Earth


Mars-OrbiterNew Delhi: India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, is in good health, on track, and is at a distance of 14.4 million kms from Earth.

The ISRO Facebook site on the Mars mission reads: “Another 233 days for MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) to reach Mars. MOM is 14.4 million km away from Earth and moving at a velocity of 31.3 km/s with respect to Sun. As of now, a signal travelling at the speed of light takes around 48 seconds to reach MOM.”

The MOM, which is India’s first planetary mission, was launched into the Earth orbit on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian Mars probe has been travelling towards the Red Planet to find the geological source of methane in the Martian surface since its launch.

“The spacecraft is absolutely healthy, on track and continuously being monitored. We are getting data from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru beside the three ground stations of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Madrid, Goldstone (California) and Canberra,” programme director Dr Mylswamy Annadurai was quoted as saying to an English daily.

Adding the next challenge for scientists would come on September 24, when the spacecraft will have to be energised after a hibernation of 9 months, he said: “The firing at that time will last for nearly 1500 seconds (25 minutes). The Mars Orbiter Insertion would be a major challenge for us but we have done a lot of ground simulation for that.”

If Mangalyaan mission is successful, ISRO would become the fourth space agency in the world to reach the Red Planet after the Soviet space program, NASA, and European Space Agency.