India’s maiden mission to Mars, the Mangalyaan, is progressing in an extremely precise, theoretical style. As planned, the spacecraft will start its Mars orbit Insertion on September 24th.
ISRO has detailed the steps invoved in the Mars Orbit Insertion, in a facebook post. The spacecraft will be first re-oreiented to align the thrust vector, and its liquid engine will then be fired, to reduce its velocity.
An interesting aspect, during this insertion process is the fact that Mangalyaan will be entering the Martian orbit at a time, when Mars will be in eclipse. MOM will enter the eclipse, 5 minutes, before the Burn start.
The liquid engine aboard the craft will then be fired, which will help in reducing the velocity, so as to make it appropriate enough, to be pulled inside Martian gravity. As that happens, a communication blackout will take place, due to Mars acting as an obstruction. During the blackout, Mangalyaan will be carrying out all its operations autonomously, the commands for which have already been fed and processed.
Once the required velocity is achieved, the communication blackout will fade away, and all communications will be resumed. MOM will finally enter an elliptical orbit around Mars, thus making it the first successful Asian mission to Mars.
This mission has been hailed by the scientific community, all over the world, largely because of its affordability. This mission has cost ISRO, almost a tenth of what NASA has spent on MAVEN. The mission also highlights India’s growing technological prowess, specially in the field of Space Sciences, with such affordable and successful space missions.
We’ll be live blogging the insertion process, and will give you first hand images, clicked by MOM along its way.