After a flight of three months, India’s maiden spacecraft to Mars, Mangalyaan, is healthy, on track and at a distance of 14.4 million km from Earth.
Mangalyaan is expected to reach Mars on September 24 — less than 230 days away.
“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,” reads the Isro Mars mission Facebook page.
“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 told HT.
Maintaining that the next challenge for the scientists would come on September 24, when the spacecraft will have to be energized after a 9 month hibernation period, 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.”
India’s space programme crossed a milestone on November 5, when it launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, commonly known as Mangalyaan, from Sriharikota on an 11-month journey to find evidence of life on the Red Planet
Of the 51 missions sent to Mars so far, only 21 have been successful. If the spacecraft enters the Mars orbit, India will join a select club comprising the US, Russia and Europe.