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India's Orbiter spacecraft set to start journey towards Mars tonight news
30 November 2013

India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will leave earth's gravity past midnight of 30 November, at 12.49 am (ie, at 0.49 am on Sunday, 1 December), on its final journey towards the Red Planet.

ISRO will fire the liquid engine on board to catapult the spacecraft to its Martial orbit, with 'attitude and orbit control thrusters in line to keep the spacecraft on course.

This will be the sixth orbit raising exercise, after which the spacecraft will be gradually manoeuvred into a hyperbolic trajectory for it to escape Earth's sphere of influence, ending at 918,347km from the surface of Earth, according to ISRO.

Once the Mars Orbiter Mission gets out of Earth's gravity with the one last swing of the spacecraft, it would start its journey towards the Red planet on Sunday.

Scientists at ISRO, however, are more confident now, following the past few successful orbit raising operations. "Everything is ready. The team of scientists is on the job," an ISRO spokesperson said.

Mars Orbiter will start its 680 million km 280-day journey on 1 December and is expected to reach the Martian trajectory in September 2014.

The orbiter will enter the heliocentric atmosphere, which is the intermediary between Earth and Mars.

"This trans-Mars injection will herald a new era of interplanetary missions for India," ISRO said.

When the spacecraft finally reaches its last apogee, it will shoot upwards towards Mars.

While leaving the Earth's orbit the Mars Orbiter Mission would rely on Sun's gravity and laws of the universe to travel to Mars at the right time.

It will be use the minimum energy while in the trajectory towards Mars and will travel on its own with trajectory corrections.

According to ISRO, the Mars Orbiter is equipped to withstand highly charged plasma particles comprising electrons, protons and nuclei,  called Van Allen Radiation belts, as it has successfully sustained several passes of these lethal radiation belts.

Currently, there satellites are orbiting Mars - two sent by the US and one by the European Space Agency.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) MAVEN are expected to reach the Martian orbit next year.

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India's Orbiter spacecraft set to start journey towards Mars tonight