India became the first Asian country to enter the Martian sphere of influence after its spacecraft swung into the gravitational pull of Mars.
A senior Indian space agency official said, "Our navigators' calculation shows that our Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has entered the gravitational sphere of influence of Mars around 9 a.m.."
Presently, the MOM is cruising in the Sun's orbit on its voyage to the red planet's orbit Wednesday.
The 475 kg (dry mass) spacecraft with five scientific experiments to explore the celestial planet was programmed 15th September for the fourth course (trajectory) correction on Monday afternoon (2.30 p.m.) to ensure its smooth insertion into the Martian orbit 24th September from sun orbit.
V. Koteshwara Rao Scientific Secretary of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said, "We will also test fire the spacecraft's main liquid fuel engine for nearly four seconds to reactivate, as it was shut down after its trans-Mars injection over nine months ago (Dec 1) into the sun orbit for its voyage through the inter-planetary space."
Mars, the second smallest celestial body in the solar system, is also known as red planet due to the presence of iron oxide in abundance, giving it a reddish appearance.
At the same time, In the early hours of Monday, America's spacecraft Maven (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also entered the Martian orbit after a 10-month 442-million mile journey from earth to explore the red planet's upper atmosphere.
In a recent interview, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said, "Mars sways human imagination like no other planet in the solar system because its conditions are believed to be hospitable as it is similar to earth in many ways."
Both the Mars and Earth have equal period of revolution around their axis, Mars takes 24 hours and 37 minutes to complete a revolution. Earth takes 365 days to orbit sun while Mars 687 days to move around sun.
Now the speed of the spacecraft also reduced by 2.14 metre per second from 22.2km per second for enabling the smooth transition into the Martian orbit.
"Mars mission is a major step forward in our space programme and a turning point for us, as India will foray into the vast inter-planetary space for the first time with an indigenous spacecraft to demonstrate our technological capabilities," Radhakrishnan asserted.
The historic occasion is witnessed by The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, when the spacecraft (Orbiter) will be inserted into the Martian orbit at 7.30 a.m. at a distance of 423 km from its surface and 215 million km away (radio distance) from earth.
The mission was launched Nov 5, 2013 on board a polar rocket from spaceport Sriharikota off Bay of Bengal, about 80 km northeast of Chennai and it cost Rs.450-crore ($70 million).
"India will be the first country in the world to insert a spacecraft into the Martian orbit in a maiden attempt if the operation succeeds," Rao claimed from the mission's control center at the space agency's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac), 20 km from this tech hub.
The state-run ISRO will be the fourth space agency after National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US, Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) and European Space Agency to have undertaken a mission to Mars. So be proud to be an Indian.