Stage set for Mars Orbiter spacecraft's entry into red planet's orbit: Isro

Written by Express news service | Bangalore | Updated: Sep 16 2014, 13:21pm hrs
Mars OrbiterIsro says that the commands, which were sent through on Sunday and Monday, will trigger the operations that will help Mars Orbiter enter orbit of the red planet on Sept 24.
The stage has been set for a critical manoeuvre that will help Indias Mars Orbiter enter the orbit of the red planet, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Monday saying that mission commands sent from Earth have been successfully received by the spacecraft.

Isro scientists say that the commands, which were sent through on Sunday and Monday, will trigger the operations that will help the spacecraft enter the orbit of Mars on September 24. The commands were sent from a mission operations centre in Bangalore and are received by the spacecraft after a 12 minute interval.

We have received confirmation from the spacecraft that the commands have been uploaded. The uploading of commands and verification whether they have all been successfully received will be completed Monday. The spacecraft will initialise these commands automatically, project director for the Mars Orbiter Mission S Arunan said.

The commands have set the stage for a test-firing of the liquid apogee motor (LAM) engine of the spacecraft on September 22. The firing of the engine for about four seconds is intended to set the spacecraft up at a distance of 515 km from Mars, ahead of the final insertion into the Mars orbit on September 24 at 7.30 am.

Isro officials said that a contingency plan for the mission will be initiated based on the events that occur during the test-firing of the LAM engine. However, mission director V Kesava Raju says Isro is confident that things are going as planned. Our verification of data and parameters with other space agencies shows that the mission is going (according) to plan, he says.

On September 24, the orbiters engine will fire for about 24 minutes, enabling the spacecraft to slip into an orbit from where its nearest distance to the planet will be 423 km and the furthest distance 80,000 km. The spacecraft, if successfully maneuvered into this orbit, will take 3.2 days to go around the red planet.

The spacecraft is currently 13 million km from Mars, on its 666 million km journey from Earth.

Nasa is incidentally set to insert its Maven spacecraft into a Mars orbit on September 22, exactly 48 hours before the Mars Orbiter.

If the mission is a success, it would mean that India is the first country to reach Mars in a maiden attempt and that Isro will be the fourth space agency to complete a successful Mars mission.