The Orbiter to Mars launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is inching closer to the Red planet after the spacecraft was raised by 5,275 km apogee (farthest point from Earth) in the early hours of Thursday.
The spacecraft was raised to 28,825 km. The nearest point from Earth, called perigee, was raised to 252 km.
ISRO's maiden Mars mission was successfully launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle - C25 (PSLV) on 5 November from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The Orbiter, carrying five scientific instruments to explore the Martian surface and atmosphere, was ejected and set at 248.4 km perigee and 23,550 km apogee on Tuesday afternoon.
The manoeuvre took place at 01:17 am when scientists of Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore commanded the 440 Newton Liquid Engine of the spacecraft to fire for 416 seconds for it to be raises. ISTRAC will be monitoring, commanding, navigating and controlling the spacecraft. ISRO, with help from Jet Propulsion Laboratory of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will track the spacecraft when it reaches the other side of Mars and is invisible to India Deep Space Tracking System.
"Each orbit manoeuvre of any spacecraft is special to us, especially the first one and we do it all with utmost care and as per a plan," said B S Chandrashekar, Director of ISTRAC, reported The Hindu.
The orbit raising stages were conducted to push the spacecraft closer to Mars and set it in an orbit around the Red planet. While one orbit has been raised, six more such orbit raisings will set the Orbiter in the Martian orbit. The instruments carried by the spacecraft will be made operational to study the planet's morphology, mineralogy and atmosphere and explore the surface.
Further orbit raising manoeuvres using the 440 Newton Liquid Engine are planned in the next few days. The spacecraft will be put on Mars Transfer Trajectory on 1 December. This will enable the Mars Orbiter spacecraft to travel to the vicinity of Mars in September 2014 after a 300-day journey in the deep space.
The ₹450-crore mission is a demonstrator for ISRO to develop technologies required for designing, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.