Soon after the spacecraft was put into space, action in the Mars Orbiter Mission shifted to the Bangalore-based tracking centre, ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network.)

ISTRAC will now be the nerve centre of the mission and communicate with the spacecraft, correct its course and command it throughout the life of the spacecraft.

First signals from the spacecraft showed it to be in good health, M.Annadurai, Programme Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission, told The Hindu in Bangalore.

“We started getting spacecraft telemetry from T+500 (T meaning the launch event) and took over after the satellite was separated” from the rocket, he said.

The satellite was going round Earth once in 6 hours 50 minutes in an elliptical orbit of 247 km x 23,564 km.

Between November 7 and December 1, ISTRAC would progressively stretch one end of the ellipse (at the apogee or farthest point from Earth) in six moves, called orbit raising manoeuvres.

Mr. Annadurai said scientists on the tracking mission were bracing themselves for the first and crucial post-launch manoeuvre at 1:15 a.m. on November 7. Prior to that, they had a rehearsal of the manoeuvre between midnight and 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

By December 1, the spacecraft must be put on the path to Mars.

Meanwhile ISTRAC must expand the spacecraft’s apogee to over a lakh km.

ISTRAC’s two large antennas, of 18-metre and 32-m diameter, located at the Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu, will then come into picture.

The two ships deployed in the South Pacific near Fiji – the Yamuna and the Nalanda - confirmed the separation of the satellite and the opening of the solar panel that generates energy for functions of the spacecraft.

Earlier, the ground stations at Sriharikota, Port Blair, Brunei and Biak in Indonesia gave data on the separation of the three stages.

As the mission progresses, ISRO will also get position data from NASA’s Deep Space Network through its three stations located in Canberra, Madrid and Goldstone on the U.S. West Coast.

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