India's First Satellite Reaches Mars' Orbit
By Claire Taylor
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), locally named as the Mangalyaan, has entered Mars' orbit on Wednesday morning, prompting celebrations all over the country and the world. It has travelled over 650 million miles after its initial launch in Sriharikota, Bay of Bengal on November 2013.
The Indian Space Research Organization's command center in Bangalore received confirmation after probes' engines completed 24 minutes of burn time before moving to its designated orbit. This interplanetary triumph grants them the title of being the first Asian country to do reach the Red Planet, and the first country in the world to be successful in their maiden attempt.
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, congratulated mission scientists on live television. The spacecraft was designed to show the best of the country's abilities in designing technology for deep-space mission. Of the 51 attempts they have made, more than half have failed.
Modi expressed his utmost compliments to Indian engineering after a "nearly impossible" accomplishment, further adding, "We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and human imagination."
India now joins the United States, Russia and the European Space agency as the fourth country in Martian explorations, but with even remarkable developments. It is seen as a large and bold leap over China and Japan, its technological rivals in terms of space objectives. Japan's futile attempt of Nozomi in 1998 and in 2011, China and Russia partnered to launch the satellite, Yinhuo-1, but failed and fell back on Earth. This orbiter mission was also one of the cheapest to be launched, with a budget of over $74 million. A far cry from NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft that cost $671 million.
MOM, however, will not land on Mars. It is intended to circumnavigate the planet in an elliptical path for six months, getting within 227 miles of the planet's surface and the farthest range of 49,700 miles. Through the help of five-solar powered instruments, it is expected to take pictures and gather information regarding the weather and investigate the water system in Mars. Another goal is to detect Methane, a vital component to life processes here on Earth, which could indicate biological activity.