India Arrives at the Red Planet!

The Prime Minister of India addresses the scientists of ISRO after the successful MOM orbital insertion.

The Prime Minister of India addresses the scientists of ISRO after the successful MOM orbital insertion.

Congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organization for the successful arrival at Mars!  The MOM/Mangalyaan mission is now ready to do major research and joins with the spacecraft of other nations in Martian exploration!  To all our Indian friends in the space business:  Bahut bahut badhaaeeyaan!!!!

Triumphant announcement of Mars Orbiter Mission to Mars, from ISRO.

Triumphant announcement of Mars Orbiter Mission to Mars, from ISRO.

It’s an exciting time for India, and for all of us who are interested in the continuing exploration of space. India has already joined the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, and Europe in sending missions off Earth, but this is their first to Mars. And, as a longtime Mars mission fan, I’d like to think that EVERYBODY’s first arrival at Mars marks a major achievement in planetary exploration.

So, welcome to Mars, ISRO.  Let’s see what your mission can tell us about the Red Planet!

 

Mars is THE Place in Space This Week!

Be there for Mangalyaan orbital insertion!

Be there for Mangalyaan orbital insertion!

Now that we’ve got the Mars MAVEN mission settled safely in orbit around Mars, the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mangalyaan is about to enter its orbit. That will happen tomorrow (September 24). The mission’s main engine did a successful test fire on Monday, which lets the controllers know that the spacecraft is all GO for orbital insertion. That will take place tonight (for some of us in the world, early morning for the folks in India). You can follow the proceedings starting at 9:15 EDT (in the U.S.), 6:45 A.M. Indian Standard Time) on a live telecast on the mission Web site.

This is a pretty historic moment for the Indian science community. It’s the first planet mission for the ISRO and it is the most costly mission the group has undertaken (at a cost of $74 million (for comparison, Mars MAVEN cost $671 million). It represents the Asian part of the world, since it’s also the first planetary mission from any Asian country (aside from going to the Moon).

The Indian scientists, like those from other countries that have sent missions to the Red Planet, know that this is not an easy task to accomplish. The path to Mars is littered with spacecraft that didn’t make it to Mars at all, or got there and then failed for various reasons. They’ve learned (as we all do) from earlier problems and have carefully nurtured their spacecraft on its way to Mars.

Once the spacecraft settles safely into its orbit, scientists have an ambitious mission planned. It will take images of the surface, study its mineralogy, check out the atmosphere, and join other spacecraft in watching as Comet C2013 A1 Siding Spring flies close by Mars on October 19, 2014.

Welcome to Mars, India!  Good luck with your mission!