The Indian Space Research Organisation conducted the first of the four trajectory correction manoeuvres of the Mars spacecraft on Wednesday.

TCM1, described as a fine-tuning of the spacecraft, was the first operation to be done since it was pushed out of Earth’s orbit on December 1.

The operation, lasting over half-a-minute, was done to adjust the motion of the spacecraft very slightly to ensure that it travels up to Mars in September next year as scheduled, an official said. It gave a small additional velocity to the spacecraft, according to the update on the Mars Orbiter Mission site.

From their command centre here at ISTRAC, controllers of the Mars orbiter enabled a 40.5-second, preprogrammed firing of the smaller, 22-Newton thrusters on the spacecraft. TCM-1 happened at 6.30am said an official statement.

Before that, they had to suitably orient it and roll it back later to the cruising position, keeping the contact intact.

At that time, the spacecraft was travelling about 29 lakh km away from Earth. It is expected to approach Mars by mid-September next year. It now takes about 20 seconds to send and get a signal ‘response’ from the spacecraft, said the update.

If the TCM is not done at the appointed time, any deviation in the spacecraft can build up and take it beyond the decided path, the official said.

Meanwhile ISRO expects to do three more course corrections in April, August and September next year so as to keep it on the planned time and path for Mars.

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