India’s Mars Orbiter will not require a trajectory correction manoeuvre in August as it is on track, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said. Currently 163 million kilometres from the red planet, the spacecraft will however undergo a trajectory correction on September 14 before it performs a crucial manoeuvre to enter the Martian orbit.
“It is travelling at a speed of 1.2 million km per day. It is on schedule and on target. Originally we were planning to have a corrective manoeuvre on August 19. But in the current situation, we don’t think it is necessary,” said A S Kiran Kumar, director Space Applications Centre, ISRO.
“On September 24 the orbiter is supposed to reach Mars and perform the manoeuvre to orbit the red planet,” Kumar added. ISRO officials say there is “no scope for error” during this manoeuvre that will help tag India as the first Asian country to successfully reach Mars in its maiden attempt.
“We have 290 kg of fuel left and we require about 240 kg for the manoeuvre to enter the Mars orbit. The process will involve reducing the velocity of the spacecraft and allowing it to get captured by Mars’ (gravity),” Kumar told The Sunday Express on the sidelines of a conference in Ahmedabad on Saturday. The MOM spacecraft that was launched on November 5, 2013, initially carried over 850 kilograms of fuel. Kumar, who is a crucial part of the Mars Orbiter Mission, said the orbiter will be slowed down by reducing its velocity by one kilometre per second roughly from its current velocity.
“The liquid apogee motors that were used to push the spacecraft out of the earth’s orbit will be reoriented and fired, thus slowing down the spacecraft. It is a one time opportunity and has to be done precisely,” Kumar said.