India’s space programme had reached a major milestone on November 5, last year when it had launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, commonly known as Mangalyaan from Sriharikota on a 11-month journey to find evidence of life on the Red Planet and position it as a budget player in the global space race.
A senior official of Isro told HT: “ 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 Bangaluru beside the three ground stations of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Madrid, Goldstone (California) and Canberra.”
Maintaining that the next challenge for the scientists would come on September 24, when the spacecraft will have to be energized after a hibernation of 9 months, he said: “ The firing at that time will last for nearly 1500 seconds. The Mars Orbiter Insertion would be a major challenge for us but we have done a lot of ground simulation for that.”
Probes to Mars have a high failure rate. Of the 51 missions so far, only 21 have been successful. A similar mission by China failed in 2011. Only the US, Europe, and Russia have sent probes that have orbited or landed on the planet. If the spacecraft enters the Mars orbit, India will join a select club comprising the US, Russia and Europe.