India's Mars Mission encounters its first glitch

Bangalore (ISJ): India's Mars Orbiter Mission on Monday (Nov. 11) encountered its first glitch when it failed to reach the desired velocity, and could not carry out the fourth orbit-raising operation to the planned level.

Scientists at the ground station could only push the spacecraft to 78,276 km away from the earth from 71,623 kms, though it was originally planned to raise the apogee (farthest point to Earth) to about 1 lakh km in the fourth stage. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) however, claimed the "spacecraft is in normal health" and will try to push it to the planned distance early on Tuesday (Nov. 12).
ISRO said, its scientists tested the autonomy functions of the spacecraft progressively during the orbit-raising operations since November 7 that are essential for Trans-Mars Injection and Mars Orbit Insertion.
India's maiden interplanetary mission was launched on November 05. The spacecraft will orbit Earth for 25 days before attaining speed to catapult its way out of earth's gravitational pull on its 780-million-km flight to the Red Planet.
India's mission made to international headlines for being cost-effective at Rs. 450 crores or approximately 71 million US dollars as against NASA's MAVEN at a cost of 2.5 billion US dollars.
Mars Orbiter or 'Mangalyaan' will have to travel more than 200 million kilometers before it reaches the orbit around the Red Planet in September, 2014.
The 1,350 kgs robotic spacecraft carries five scientific payloads to observe Martian surface, atmosphere and exosphere extending up to 80,000 km for a detailed understanding of the evolution of that planet, especially the related geologic and the possible biogenic processes on that interesting planet. These payloads consist of a camera, two spectrometers, a radiometer and a photometer. Together, they have a weight of about 15 kg.
ISRO is collaborating with USA's NASA in the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is providing communication and navigation support with their Deep Space Network facilities.
With the successful launch of the spacecraft, India joins the select club of spacefaring nations to attempt this feat. However, only three other space agencies ? USA's NASA, Russia's Roscosmos and the European Nation Space Agency have so far reached Earth's closest neighbor. Chinese and Japanese missions however, failed.

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