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Mangalyaan's next successful step: a tricky mid-course correction

Mangalyaan being launched from Sriharikota on Nov 5, 2013

New Delhi At 6:30 this morning, the Mangalyaan, India's first mission to Mars, successfully completed its first mid-course correction, a tricky operation, said scientists.
Here is the latest on the mission:
  1. Mangalyaan is now in uncharted territory for the Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO. No Indian spacecraft has ever travelled so far.

  2. It was about 2.9 million km away from the Earth when the mid-course correction was done. It involved first re-orienting the spacecraft and then firing its smaller rockets to give it a nudge.

  3. This was the first of four Trajectory Correction Manoeuvres or TCM, that will be carried out as the Mars Orbiter Mission heads towards the Earth's red neighbour.

  4. The TCMs are done to fine-tune the mission so that it keeps on the precise intended track.

  5. The Rs. 450 crore mission is expected to reach Mars on September 24, 2014. If it does that successfully, India will become the first Asian nation to do this.

  6. No country has succeeded in reaching Mars on the first attempt. More than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 1998.

  7. The Mars Orbiter Mission is not taking the shortest route to the Red Planet. ISRO explained that it is travelling about 680 million km in an elliptical orbit as this requires the least amount of fuel. On the shorter route, scientists said, a large amount of fuel would be needed to accelerate and later decelerate to match the planet's speed.

  8. The mission was launched on November 5, 2013, from Sriharikota, in Andhra Pradesh. For almost a month it rotated around the Earth to gather the final extra kick through a sling shot mechanism.

  9. On December 1, it successfully left the Earth's orbit and began cruising towards Mars after a crucial and tricky midnight operation to give it a nudge to escape the Earth's gravity.

  10. Once it reaches Mars, the Mangalyaan will revolve around the 'Red Planet' for six months and announce India's triumph. The mission has made international headlines, at least in part for its cost-efficiency.

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