Indian craft leaves Earth's orbit on way to Mars

December 1, 2013 by Ashok Sharma
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan. Credit: Wikipedia

India's Mars orbiter mission left Earth's sphere of influence early Sunday after performing a maneuver to put it on its way to orbit the red planet.

The fired its for more than 20 minutes to reach the correct velocity to leave the Earth's orbit, the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization said.

"The Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the sun," the statement said.

It said that all systems onboard the spacecraft are performing normally.

India launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars on Nov. 5, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel.

The 1,350-kilogram (3,000-pound) orbiter Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, must travel 780 million kilometers (485 million miles) over 300 days to reach an orbit around Mars next September.

If the mission is successful, India will become only the fourth to visit the after the Soviet Union, the United States and Europe.

Graphic fact file on India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Some have questioned the $72 million price tag for a country of 1.2 billion people still dealing with widespread hunger and poverty. But the government defended the Mars mission, and its $1 billion space program in general, by noting its importance in providing high-tech jobs for scientists and engineers and practical applications in solving problems on Earth.

Decades of have allowed India to develop satellite, communications and that are helping to solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting where fish can be caught by fishermen to predicting storms and floods.

The orbiter will gather images and data that will help in determining how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the large quantities of water that are believed to have once existed on Mars.

It also will search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes that could also come from geological processes. Experts say the data will improve understanding about how planets form, what conditions might make life possible and where else in the universe it might exist.

The orbiter is expected to have at least six months to investigate the planet's landscape and atmosphere. At its closest point, it will be 365 kilometers (227 miles) from the planet's surface, and its furthest point will be 80,000 kilometers (49,700 miles) away.

Explore further: India vies for elite role in space with Mars trip

Related Stories

India vies for elite role in space with Mars trip

November 4, 2013

India is aiming to join the world's deep-space pioneers with a journey to Mars that it hopes will showcase its technological ability to explore the solar system while seeking solutions for everyday problems on Earth.

India launches first mission to Mars

November 5, 2013

India on Tuesday launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel.

Indian Mars mission suffers glitch but 'no setback'

November 11, 2013

India's Mars spacecraft suffered a brief engine failure Monday as scientists tried to move it into a higher orbit around Earth, but controllers denied any setback to the ambitious low-cost mission.

Recommended for you

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (8) Dec 01, 2013
Ugliest satellite...
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2013
Ugly? Low-cost!
It is very interesting to see what can be done with "low-cost" space exploration.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2013
Ugliest satellite...

Isn't that a washing machine? (just kidding)

I think it actually looks cool. It's different to what we usually see.
1 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2013
West is always behave very badly to Asian People. Any Type of technological advance in Asians will not digest to them.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2013
And the first call centre on Mars is established.

Press 1 for rover technical problem.
Press 2 for atmospheric analysis.
Press 3 for communication diagnostics
or stay on hold to speak to one of our Martians.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.