The spacecraft, which at present is 16 million km from Earth, has been continuously sending data, indicating all systems are functioning as expected
India’s Mars Orbiter spacecraft successfully completed 100 days of its journey on February 12. Its 310-day-long journey began on November 5, last year.
According to Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO), the spacecraft is in good condition. On February 6, the instruments on the Mars orbiter were switched on for tests and were found to be performing well. The spacecraft is carrying five instruments or payloads on it for sending crucial data from the Red Planet. This is the first time that a ground station is connected with the equipment on the spacecraft while it is in the sphere of influence of the sun.
Maintaining connectivity with the spacecraft is important for India to benefit from the mission. ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network, located at Byalalu, near Bangalore, is in constant touch with the orbiter.
The spacecraft has to travel a total of 680 million km, out of which it has already travelled 190 million km. At present, the spacecraft is at a distance of 16 million km from Earth and it takes 55 seconds for a signal from the Earth to reach it. ISRO has said that except for a 40-minute break in the telemetry data received from the spacecraft to the ground station, data has been continuously available for all the 100 days. This data pertains mainly to the health of the craft and the calibration of the payloads. The payloads are not working while the orbiter is moving in the wide heliosphere. ISRO spokesperson has revealed that the journey so far has been devoid of any adverse or unexpected events.
In the next 210 days, the orbiter would travel 490 million km and would enter Mars’ orbit on September 24, 2014. ISRO had planned four trajectory correction manoeuvres for the spacecraft from the time it was launched till the time it reaches the orbit of Red Planet. The first of these was carried out December 11, 2013. The next is planned around April 2014.
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