The Mangalyaan, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, breaks free from Earth’s orbit
The Mangalyaan space craft, which is becoming known as MOM, or Mars Orbiter Mission, has left Earth’s orbit and is well on its way to Mars. According to the Indian Space Research Organization, the Mangalyaan achieved the correct velocity by firing its main engine for over 20 minutes.
In a beautifully depicted tweet of the Mangalyaan with Earth in the background, the Indian Space Research Organization states:
The path of no return!
The die has been cast.
MOM has crossed the rubicon,
Never to return to Earth.
MOM has broken free from the shackles of gravity and is on the one way road for a rendevouz with the red planet.
“The Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the sun,” the ISRO said. The Mangalyaan is due to reach Mars orbit in September of next year.
With all systems operating at normal levels of function, the Mangalyaan is hoped to travel the 485 million miles to reach Mars successfully and become the fourth space craft to visit the red planet. If MOM is fruitful, the Mangalyaan should have an estimated 6 months to investigate Mars.
The goal of the Mars Orbiter Mission is to gather data and images that will hopefully aid in deciphering the weather system of Mars. The Mangalyaan will also search for methane which could help us understand more about how planets form and conditions that may make life possible.
Some have questioned the cost of the Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, as it totaled near $72 million. However, it is hoped that if successful, it will help to open up new opportunities for people. “These missions are important. These are things that give Indians happiness and bragging rights,” said Raghu Kalra of the Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi. “Even a poor person, when he learns that my country is sending a mission to another planet, he will feel a sense of pride for his country, and he will want to make it a better place.”