The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up for the critical event of moving the Mars-bound Mangalyaan out of Earth’s sphere of influence.
The Trans-Mars Injection, as it is called in space science parlance, will slingshot Mangalyaan into its heliocentric orbit towards Mars.
“The 680 million km-long interplanetary voyage begins with the mother of all slingshots, code-named Trans-Mars Injection and scheduled for December 1 at 00:49 hrs (12.49 am),” said a senior Isro scientist. “We are doing all the fine tuning on the basis of data collected. At present the spacecraft is healthy.”
“This would essentially be similar to the maneuvres that we have done earlier. But in this case all the systems have to be calibrated precisely. The burn time will also be slightly longer, of around 1300 seconds.”
The spacecraft has been in the Earth-bound orbits with different apogees since its launch on November 5 from Sriharikota.
“This voyage to Mars is achieved by a complex combination of navigation and propulsion technologies, governed by the gravity of Sun and Mars, and assisted by the 440 N Liquid engine. Further fine tuning of the trajectory is achieved using the Attitude and Orbit Control Thrusters during the trajectory correction maneuvres planned en route,” the scientist said.
The spacecraft has undergone five successful Earth-bound maneuvres since its launch. After the spacecraft moves out of Earth’s orbit, there could be some mid course corrections. It will move into the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014.
Isro workhorse PSLV C25 had successfully injected the 1,350-kg Mangalyaan orbiter into orbit around Earth about 44 minutes after a textbook launch of the Rs. 450-crore mission.