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India’s Mars Orbiter Mission Rising to Red Planet – Glorious Launch Gallery

Clouds on the ground !  The sky seems inverted for a moment ! Blastoff of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

Clouds on the ground !
The sky seems inverted for a moment ! Blastoff of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

With India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) safely and flawlessly injected into her initial elliptical Earth parking orbit following Tuesday’s (Nov. 5) spectacular launch, the flight has quickly transitioned to the next stage – the crucial series of thruster firings to raise MOM’s orbit around Earth dubbed “Midnight Maneuvers” and achieve escape velocity.

Barely a day after blastoff, ISRO engineers successfully completed the first of six orbit raising “Midnight Maneuver” burns at 01:17 hrs IST today (Nov. 6) with MOM’s liquid fueled thruster – see graphic below.

The goal is to gradually maneuver MOM – India’s 1st mission to the Red Planet – into a hyperbolic trajectory so that the spacecraft will escape from the Earth’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) and eventually arrive at the Mars Sphere of Influence after a 10 month interplanetary cruise.

Artists concept shows First Midnight Manouever of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft with successful thruster firing of the liquid engine on Nov. 6 2013.  Credit: ISRO

Artists concept shows First Midnight Manouever of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft with successful thruster firing of the liquid engine on Nov. 6 2013. Credit: ISRO

To do this involves a lot of complicated orbital mechanics calculations, as noted by ISRO’s chief during the launch webcast.

“The journey has only begun. The challenging phase is coming,” said Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman ISRO.

India’s PSLV rocket is not powerful enough to send MOM on a direct flight to Mars.

The launch “placed MOM very precisely into an initial elliptical orbit around Earth of 247 x 23556 kilometers with an inclination of 19.2 degrees,” said Radhakrishnan. “MOM is a huge step taking India beyond Earth’s influence for the first time.”

So ISRO’s engineers devised a clever procedure to get the spacecraft to Mars on the least amount of fuel via six “Midnight Maneuver” engine burns over the next several weeks – and at an extremely low cost.

First orbit raising Midnight Manouever of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft completed successfully. Credit: ISRO

First orbit raising Midnight Manouever of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft completed successfully. Credit: ISRO

The 440 Newton engine fires when MOM is at its closest point in orbit above Earth. This increases the ships velocity and gradually widens the ellipse and raises the apogee of the six resulting elliptical orbits around Earth that eventually injects MOM onto the Trans-Mars trajectory.

The 1st firing lasted 416 seconds and raised the spacecraft’s apogee to 28,825 km and perigee to 252 km.

The remaining burns are planned for November 7, 8, 9, 11, and 16.

MOM is expected to achieve escape velocity on Dec. 1 and depart Earth’s sphere of influence tangentially to Earth’s orbit to begin the 300 day long voyage to the Red Planet.

She will follow a path that’s roughly half an ellipse around the sun.

MOM arrives in the vicinity of Mars on September 24, 2014 for the absolutely essential Mars orbital insertion firing by the 440 Newton liquid fueled main engine which slows the probe and places it into a 366 km x 80,000 km elliptical orbit.

If all continues to goes well, India will join an elite club of only four who have launched probes that successfully investigated the Red Planet from orbit or the surface – following the Soviet Union, the United States and the European Space Agency (ESA).

MOM is the first of two new Mars orbiter science probes from Earth blasting off for the Red Planet this November. Half a globe away, NASA’s $671 Million MAVEN orbiter remains on target to launch barely two weeks after MOM on Nov. 18 – from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Both MAVEN and MOM’s goal is to study the Martian atmosphere , unlock the mysteries of its current atmosphere and determine how, why and when the atmosphere and liquid water was lost – and how this transformed Mars climate into its cold, desiccated state of today.

The MAVEN and MOM science teams will “work together” to unlock the secrets of Mars atmosphere and climate history, MAVEN’s top scientist told Universe Today.

Stay tuned here for continuing MOM and MAVEN news and Ken’s MAVEN launch reports from on site at the Kennedy Space Center press center.

Here’s a glorious gallery of launch images of the PSLV-25 rocket & Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013.

Ken Kremer

It’ s a Mind-Blowing Midnight Marvel !  Fueled PSLV rocket and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) awaits Nov. 5 blastoff.  Credit: ISRO.  Watch ISRO’s Live  Webcast

It’ s a Mind-Blowing Midnight Marvel ! Fueled PSLV rocket and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) awaits Nov. 5 blastoff. Credit: ISRO.

Gorgeous view of the majestic Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV C25 with its passenger, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO's) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft inside. The Mobile service tower is also seen in the background.  Credit: IRSO

Gorgeous view of the majestic Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV C25 with its passenger, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft inside. The Mobile service tower is also seen in the background. Credit: IRSO

Blastoff of the Indian developed Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

Blastoff of the Indian developed Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

Surreal view of 'T zero' Launch of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

Surreal view of ‘T zero’
Launch of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

Golden smoke engulfs the First Launch Pad as the PSLV C25 takes off with ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft. Credit: ISRO

Golden smoke engulfs the First Launch Pad as the PSLV C25 takes off with ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft. Credit: ISRO

Celebrating MOM’s Victory over Gravitation !  There she goes taking our dreams into deeper space !  Launch of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

Celebrating MOM’s Victory over Gravitation !
There she goes taking our dreams into deeper space ! Launch of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

Clouds on the ground !  The sky seems inverted for a moment ! Blastoff of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

Clouds on the ground !
The sky seems inverted for a moment ! Blastoff of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5, 2013 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) streaks to orbit after launch on Nov. 5, 2013.  Credit: ISRO

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) streaks to orbit after launch on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

…………….

Learn more about MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Nov 14-19: “MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bhartiya888 November 7, 2013, 2:45 AM

    go ISRO!!

  • Paul November 7, 2013, 5:31 AM

    > The 440 Newton engine fires when MOM is at apogee – at its closest point in orbit above Earth.
    Isn’t that perigee?

    • AK November 7, 2013, 3:26 PM

      In the article the he refers to Apogee, because of the engine firing and “raises the apogee…..”
      I think he is correct in his usage of the term

    • jvk November 7, 2013, 6:49 PM

      i think u are correct.. the article has been updated..

  • The Latinist November 7, 2013, 10:06 AM

    This is really quite clever.

  • JonHanford November 7, 2013, 10:27 AM

    “MOM is a huge step taking India beyond Earth’s influence for the first time.”

    While Dr. Radhakrishnan is understandably excited by the prospects for this Mars mission (as am I), it should be noted that India placed a satellite in orbit around the moon back in 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-1

    • krenshala November 8, 2013, 1:09 PM

      While you are correct about that, the Moon is still considered to be inside the Earth’s sphere of influence. Sending a probe to Mars, on the other hand, is most definitely sending something outsides Earth’s SoI.

  • jvk November 7, 2013, 6:51 PM

    Another excellent piece of article from Ken Kremer.. And nice pictures too.. keep it up.. (As of now, the second orbit raising has been completed successfully )

    • Ken Kremer November 7, 2013, 11:28 PM

      Thanks ! yes – that and more is for the next story. stay tuned!

      • Karunakar Reddy November 8, 2013, 9:26 PM

        Thank you for sharing more information on MOM and awesome pictures of the blast off of PSLV C25. I am a software engineer, but still very curious about space programs. I feel India should excel in launching GSLV to conduct meaningful space programs in future.

  • Aqua4U November 7, 2013, 9:34 PM

    Best wishes for a smooth and uneventful transit to MARS! Go ISRO!

  • Paul November 8, 2013, 9:14 AM

    Yes, it’s correct now. It was wrong originally.

  • Palaniappan Rajaram November 18, 2013, 8:24 PM

    Dr. Kremer,
    Thank you for a nice article! I have a question regarding the intended orbit around Mars. It is stated to be a highly elliptic orbit. While getting to Mars in itself is a technological challenge to a still developing space agency such as ISRO, I understand that meaningful science is possible only through a close, circular orbit. What, in your opinion, was the reason for ISRO to settle for this orbit? Is it the amount of fuel that is carried on-board the satellite? I do understand that the mission was supposed to have been launched by the beefier GSLV which probably would have resulted in reduced usage of the on-board fuel to just get to Mars.

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