Bangalore: India on Wednesday made history by successfully placing its spacecraft in orbit around Mars, becoming the first country in the world to succeed in such an inter-planetary mission in the maiden attempt itself.
At 7.17 am, the 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) sizzled with life as it burnt along with the thrusters to slow down the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft to be captured by the Red Planet.
"MOM has met Mangal," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said announcing the mission's success, after nerve-wracking final moments at the command centre of Indian Space Research Organisation.
Modi, who witnessed the operation along with the space scientists, said the odds were stacked against "us with only 21 of the 51 missions to Mars being successful," but "we have prevailed."
An elated Prime Minister patted the back of ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and complimented the Indian space scientists for making space history.
With the success of "Mangalyaan", India has become the first country in the world to go to Mars in the very first try. European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet, but after several attempts.
Mars Orbiter Insertion was carried out automatically by commands loaded onto the spacecraft after its velocity was slowed down from 22.1 km per second to 4.4 km per second to be captured by the Martian orbit.
The spacecraft had entered the Martian neighbourhood on Monday.
At the time of MOM's orbital insertion, its signals took about 12 minutes and 28 seconds to travel to Earth for reception by NASA's Deep Space Network Stations in Canberra and Goldstone that relayed the data in real time to ISRO's station in Bangalore.
The first sign of success in the final moments came when ISRO announced that burn of engines on India's Mars orbiter had been confirmed. "All engines of Mars orbiter are going strong. Burn confirmed," said ISRO signalling that history was in the making.
Igniting the main engine was critical as it had been lying in slumber for about 300 days and was woken up briefly for four seconds on Monday.
It was a make or break tricky manoeuvre as even the slightest error would have pushed the orbiter into deep depths of space.
Much of the spacecraft's manoeuvre took place behind Mars, as seen from Earth. This meant that from a point four minutes into the Mars Orbiter Insertion (MOI) burn until three minutes after the scheduled end of the manoeuvre, teams on Earth had no insight into the spacecraft's progress.
The orbiter will keep moving in an elliptical path at least for six months with its instruments sending their gleanings back home.
The success in placing the spacecraft in the Martian orbit has made India the fourth space power after the United States, Europe and Russia to orbit or land on the Red Planet.
The Rs 450-crore Mangalyaan aims to study Mars' surface and mineral composition, and scan its atmosphere for methane, a chemical strongly tied to life on Earth.
The spacecraft was launched on 5 November, 2013 on homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on its nine-month long odyssey. It had escaped the earth gravity pull on December 1, 2013.
India's MOM is the cheapest inter-planetary mission. It cost about a tenth of NASA's Mars mission Maven that entered the Martian orbit on 22 September.
The 1,350 kg spacecraft is equipped with five instruments including a sensor to track methane or marsh gas -- a possible sign of life, a colour camera and a thermal imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the Red Planet.
US' NASA and its MAVEN team have congratulated ISRO on its Mars arrival, the Indian space agency said.
Published Date: Sep 24, 2014 10:02 am | Updated Date: Sep 25, 2014 10:06 am