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India’s Mars Orbiter crosses half-way mark


Chennai, April 9 :

India’s Mars Orbiter has travelled over 340 million km and crossed the half-way mark Wednesday morning on its long journey towards the Red planet, the Indian space agency said.

In a statement, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the Mars Orbiter had crossed the half-way mark along the designated helio-centric trajectory.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, the country's first Mars-bound probeCredit: ISRO artist's concept
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, the country’s first Mars-bound probeCredit: ISRO artist’s concept

According to an ISRO official, the Mars Orbiter has to travel 680 million km.

Launched on Nov 5, 2013, a Trans Mars Injection steering was carried out to set the spacecraft towards the planet, followed by a Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) Dec 11, 2013 after it had crossed the Earth’s sphere of influence.

As the Mars Orbiter is on its track, the TCM planned for April was not been done and if needed, the trajectory would be corrected in June.

According to ISRO, the five scientific instruments on board the Mars Orbiter are in fine condition and tests are done periodically.

The radio (straight line) distance between the Earth and the Orbiter is now 39 million km and a signal from here to the spacecraft and back takes around 4 minutes and 15 seconds, ISRO said.

Soon, the High Gain Antenna of the spacecraft will be put in service for handling communications with the ground stations.

Meanwhile, ISRO Wednesday morning raised the orbit of its second navigation satellite – IRNSS-1B – by firing the on-board motors for 2.24 minutes. The satellite’s perigee (nearest point to earth) is 35,328 km and the apogee (farthest point from earth) is 35,931 km.