Mission Mars: ISRO nudges orbiter on course

Written by Johnson TA | Johnson TA | Bangalore | Updated: Jun 12 2014, 18:10pm hrs
A crucial second trajectory correction on the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft of the Indian Space Research Organization to keep it on course for its September 24, 2014 date with the red planet was successfully carried out from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network Station (ISTRAC) here on Wednesday.

The 16-second course correction on the spacecraft which is traveling some 475 million km away from Earth - en route its 680-million-km journey to lock into the orbit of Mars on September 24, was originally scheduled to be conducted in April but was postponed because the trajectory correction was not required at the time, ISRO officials said.

The first Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) was conducted on December 11, 2013. Two more TCM operations are planned around August 2014 and September 2014, director of publicity at ISRO D P Karnik said. In todays procedure, described as a minor correction by ISRO officials, the Mars Orbiter fired its engines briefly for 16 seconds around 4:30 p m on the basis of radio commands issued from ISTRAC to move its position before continuing on its 10-month-long heliocentric cruise to Mars.

The Mars Orbiter, Indias first interplanetary probe, was launched by PSLV-C25 on November 5, 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

Following six orbit-raising manoeuvres around the Earth soon after launch, the Mars Orbiter fired its engine for 22 minutes to carry out the Trans Mars Injection Manoeuvre on December 01, 2013 which helped the spacecraft escape the sphere of influence of Earth and begin its cruise to Mars.

ISRO has been monitoring the spacecraft using its Deep Space Network complemented by that of NASA. The health parameters of all the payloads are normal, ISRO officials said. The Mars Orbiter Spacecraft is carrying five scientific instruments. It has traversed farther than any other Indian spacecraft when it went beyond the 360-million-km mark that was covered on the Chandrayaan 1 mission in 2008.