Indian Mars mission on track, makes first engine burns

Nov 08, 2013
This photo, released by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on November 6, 2013, shows the PSLV-C25 rocket carrying the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft blasting off from the launch pad at Sriharikota, on November 5, 2013

India's Mars spacecraft has completed the first of a series of engine firings designed to free it from Earth's gravitational pull and propel it towards the Red Planet, scientists said Friday.

The first "orbit-raising manoeuvre", which involves the firing of a liquid fuel thruster, was performed Thursday followed by the second firing on Friday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

"The second orbit raising of Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, starting at 02:18:51 hours (IST) on November 8, with a burn time of 570.6 seconds has been successfully completed," the Bangalore-headquartered ISRO said in a statement.

India began the quest to become the first Asian country to reach Mars on Tuesday with the succesful launch from its southern space station of a 1.35 tonne unmanned probe, which is strapped to a rocket.

As it lacks the power to fly directly to Mars, the probe will orbit Earth for nearly a month and the thruster firings are designed to build up the necessary velocity to break free from our planet's .

Only once all six of the engine firing manoeuvres have been successfully completed will it begin the second stage of its nine-month journey to Mars.

The main aim of the mission is to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere, which could provide evidence of some sort of life form on the fourth planet from the sun.

Visitors to the Nehru Planetarium watch the live telecast of the launch of India's Mars Orbiter Mission, in New Delhi, on November 5, 2013

India has never before attempted inter-planetary travel, and more than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 2003.

The cost of the project, at 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), is less than a sixth of the $455 million earmarked for a Mars probe by NASA which will launch later this month.

ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan has called the mission a "turning point" for India's space ambitions and one which would go on to prove the country's capabilities in rocket technology.

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verkle
1 / 5 (9) Nov 08, 2013
I believe it's not really "building up velocity", but actually getting to a higher and higher orbit where gravity gets less and less, so that escape velocity also get less and less.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (8) Nov 08, 2013
The main aim of the mission is to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere, which could provide evidence of some sort of life form on the fourth planet from the sun.


I'm assuming they know we already have probes working on this? Therefore they believe their technology is more advanced than NASAs? Or maybe they just want to be able to say they did it for themselves? Nothing wrong with that, God bless em.

The cost of the project, at 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), is less than a sixth of the $455 million earmarked for a Mars probe by NASA which will launch later this month.


This is impressive. NASA probably over-does quality controls sometimes. Given the huge budget overflows, it might be better for NASA to reduce quality controls, and just make extra copies of probes and have multiple targets.

Maybe there's some statistician who can say whether the cost of extra quality control on one probe outweighs benefits of multiple copies of the same probe?!
aroc91
3 / 5 (1) Nov 08, 2013
I believe it's not really "building up velocity", but actually getting to a higher and higher orbit where gravity gets less and less, so that escape velocity also get less and less.


Yeah, those astrophysicists have no idea what they're talking about. Glad you're here to set the record straight.
Anda
not rated yet Nov 08, 2013
The most interesting thing about this mission is to see what can be accomplished with a low budget.
Eikka
1 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2013
I believe it's not really "building up velocity", but actually getting to a higher and higher orbit where gravity gets less and less, so that escape velocity also get less and less.


No, it's doing exactly as stated.

It's using the Oberth effect to fling itself further and further away by passing close to earth and accelerating at the moment it's going the fastest, like a child on a swing who times their efforts at the center where the swingset is moving the fastest.

By timing the accelerations right, it sort of steals momentum from the earth itself.