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Mars Orbiter Achieves New Milestone
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India's first interplanetary mission MOM has completed 100 days around Mars after it entered the Red Planet's orbit in September.
The Mars Orbiter launched on November 5, 2013 onboard ISRO's PSLV C25 from Sriharikota entered the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014 after a nine-month long odyssey, making India the first country in the world to succeed in such inter-planetary mission in the maiden attempt itself.
Since then, the spacecraft has been sending data, including pictures of the terrain of the Red planet to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which are being received at Bangalore and being sent to Space Application Centre and Physical Research Laboratory, both located at Ahmedabad for analysis.
"Though the design of Mangalyaan is for a year i.e. next September, it will continue to orbit around Mars depending on the fuel left in it," a senior ISRO official told PTI.
The Mars Orbiter was also lucky to capture the coma of comet "Siding Spring" with the a colour camera on board for over 40 minutes as it made an appearance near the Red planet on October 19 last year.
The 1,350-kg weighing (on Earth) craft has also taken pictures of one of the two Martian moons -- Phobos, while it was travelling west to east over Mars in its typical orbit.
Some of the pictures it took include the regional dust storm activities over northern hemisphere of Mars, full disc image of the planet, showing Elysium - the second largest volcanic province on the natural satellite.
The first set of pictures of Mars sent by the orbiter from space was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a day after the spacecraft entered the Martian orbit.
The spacecraft is now circling the red planet in an orbit whose nearest point to Mars (periapsis) is at 421.7 km and farthest point (apoapsis) at 76,993.6 km. In this orbit, the spacecraft takes 72 hours 51 minutes 51 seconds to go round the Mars once.
It is equipped with five instruments, including a sensor to track methane or marsh gas, a colour camera and a thermal imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the red planet.
The Rs 450-crore Mars mission is the cheapest inter- planetary mission embarked on by any country. European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet but after several attempts.
MOM was also adjudged one of the 25 innovations made in 2014 by "TIME" magazine, which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its "interplanetary muscles."
"Nobody gets Mars right on the first try. The US didn't, Russia didn't, the Europeans didn't. But on September 24, India did. That's when the Mangalyaan went into orbit around the Red planet, a technological feat no other Asian nation has yet achieved," the magazine said about Mangalyaan, calling it "The Supersmart Spacecraft".