ISRO to raise Mars probe's orbit Thursday

Chennai, Nov 6 : Indian space agency officials are gearing up for a manouevre to raise the orbit of the Mars Orbiter on Thursday, said a top official.

He added once the mission is successful, global space agencies might look at joining hands with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for inter-planetary and other space missions.

"Early tomorrow (Thursday), we will carry out the orbit-raising activities on Mars Orbiter. We will take the Mars Orbiter to over 28,000 km," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told IANS over phone from Bangalore Wednesday.

ISRO officials told IANS that Radhakrishnan often told them that launching the Mars Orbiter is only 15 percent work done. The balance 85 percent involves taking the Orbiter safely and injecting it in the Mars orbit.

"If the Mars Orbiter Mission succeeds, that is, if the Orbiter is injected in Mars orbit, then there is a possibility of space-faring nations partnering India for inter-planetary and other space missions," Radhakrishnan added.

He said India's spend of Rs.450 crore on its Mars mission is the lowest as compared to the expenditure incurred by other nations on a similar venture.

Meanwhile, the mood is upbeat amongst the ISRO family members as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the Indian rocket, injected the Mars Orbiter Tuesday at a near-precise orbit.

"Going by the comments we hear from officials in space agencies of other countries and the media, the world seems to have been stunned at our Mars mission," a senior ISRO official told IANS.

"Early tomorrow (Thursday) at 1.17 a.m. the on-board motors of Mars Orbiter will be fired for around 200 seconds to raise its orbit by around 4,120 km to 28,785 km," S. Arunan, project director, Mars Orbiter Mission, told IANS over phone from Bangalore.

"Today (Wednesday) morning, we carried out the rehearsal for the orbit-raising activities without switching on the motor," he added.

According to him, around 40 kg of the on-board fuel is expected to be burnt in the first orbit-raising manouevre.

"We will do six orbit-raising activities and the final and most important one will be the sixth one to push the Mars Orbiter towards the red planet," Arunan said.

The 1,340-kg Mars Orbiter, at an outlay of around Rs.150 crore, carries 852 kg of fuel.

According to Arunan, around 360 kg fuel was likely to be expended on the six orbit-raising activities.

Arunan said the design life of Mars Orbiter was six months. The Orbiter's life depends on the environmental conditions on Mars.

"The fuel requirement in the Mars orbit is not much. The Orbiter needs only two kg fuel for six months," he said.

He said there are three Mars satellites (two by the US and one by the European Space Agency) in orbit and they have outlived their design life.

--IANS (Posted on 06-11-2013)

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