India’s maiden mission to Mars, Mangalyaan, crossed the distance of Moon’s orbit on Monday morning, becoming the farthest object sent into space by India.
“Mars orbiter mission (MOM) has crossed the distance of Moon’s orbit this morning. MOM is now the farthest object sent in to space by India,” read the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) mission’s Facebook page.
The spacecraft is travelling close to 10 lakh km a day, Isro sources said. “We send the signal from the ground to the spacecraft and calculate the time for the signal to return back. On the basis of this time, we calculate the distance of the spacecraft,” programme director Mylswamy Annadurai said.
Earlier, the space programme reached a major milestone a little past midnight on December 1 as it left the earth’s orbit and started its 300-day journey to the red planet.
Mangalyaan is now on its 680-million-km voyage to Mars. Once in the Mars orbit, the orbiter’s five payloads will then start performing experiments for the next six months.
The space agency has planned four mid-course corrections in case of any deviation along its path to the Martian orbit before its expected arrival in the orbit of the red planet in September 2014. “We have planned the first mid-course correction for December 11,” Annadurai said.