File photo: This computer-generated image depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater (Reuters)
Mangalyaan, the satellite India launched on Tuesday afternoon in its first mission to Mars, will enter the orbit of the Earth's red neighbour in September 2014.
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) exhaled only after the satellite separated from the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, 2700 seconds or about 45 minutes after launch and entered the earth's orbit.
The launch rocket "has placed the Mars Orbiter spacecraft very precisely into an elliptical orbit around Earth," the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation K. Radhakrishnan announced from the control room.
The 350-tonne Mangalyaan will orbit Earth for nearly a month, building up the necessary velocity to break free from our planet's gravitational pull.
Only then will it begin the second stage of its nine-month journey, which will test India's scientists to the full, five years after they sent a probe called Chandrayaan to the moon.
The total cost of the project is Rs 450 crore, one-sixth of the cost of a Mars probe set to be launched by NASA in 13 days.