Bangalore, Feb 11 IANS | 10 months ago

India's maiden Mars Orbiter spacecraft completes 100 days Wednesday cruising through interplanetary space in its voyage towards the red planet.

"Health of the first interplanetary probe is normal and its journey in the helio-centric orbit is being monitored by our deep space network at Byalalu," the Indian space agency said here Tuesday. Byalalu is 40 km from here.

1Barring a 40-minute break, the Orbiter has been relaying data continuously over the last 99 days.

The 1,337kg Orbiter was launched Nov 5 from Sriharikota spaceport off the Bay of Bengal, about 80 km north east of Chennai, onboard a 350-tonne rocket with five scientific instruments --Mars Colour Camera, Methane Sensor, Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, Lyman Alpha Photometer, and Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser.

India became the first Asian country and fourth nation in the world to leap into the interplanetary space with its Rs.450-crore exploratory mission to Mars, about 400 million km from earth.

"The Orbiter's propulsion system has been configured for trajectory correction manouveres and the Mars orbit insertion operation in mid-September," the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.

The five instruments were switched on Feb 6 to check their health.

The Orbiter has travelled 190 million km so far and has to coast another 490 million km over the next seven months (210 days) to reach the red planet for inserting into its orbit Sept 24.

The Orbiter zoomed out Dec 4 of the earth's sphere of influence, which extends up to 925,000km in the interplanetary space and freed from its gravitational pull.

The spacecraft is set for three more trajectory correction manouveres in April, August and September after the first one was conducted Dec 11.

"The trajectory of the spacecraft, till today, is as expected," the statement added.

Health parameters of all the instruments are normal. The Orbiter is at a radio distance of 16 million km causing a one way communication delay of 55 seconds.

(Posted on 11-02-2014)

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