The orbiter’s apogee has been raised from 28,814 to 40,186 km

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully boosted for the second time the orbit of its Mars spacecraft on Friday, thus raising the orbiter’s apogee from 28,814 km to 40,186 km.

The spacecraft’s orbit went up after the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) station at Bangalore issued commands to the 440 Newton engine on board the spacecraft to fire and the engine came alive for about 570 seconds from 2.18 a.m. The ISTRAC had increased the orbiter’s apogee for the first time early Thursday morning by revving up the engine, which uses liquid propellants. The ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-25) had put India’s Mars orbiter in an earthbound orbit with a perigee of 247 km and an apogee of 23,566 km on November 5.

The third orbit-raising operation will take place early in the morning of Saturday (November 9) to boost the apogee from 40,186 km to 70,656 km. The sixth and final firing will take place on December 1 when the spacecraft will be sent out of the earth’s orbit into a sun-centric orbit. Then the spacecraft will go around the sun in such a way as to cruise along for nine months and approach Mars.

On September 24, 2014, ISRO will reorient the spacecraft and fire the Newton engine again to slow down the orbiter so that it can enter the Martian orbit. The spacecraft will then have a periapsis of 377 km and an apoapsis of 80,000 km.

If India’s Mars spacecraft successfully enters the Martian orbit, ISRO will activate the five instruments on board the spacecraft to look for methane on the Red Planet and study its surface features, upper atmosphere and mineralogy. After the second orbit-raising manoeuvre on Friday, the spacecraft’s health continued to be good, said an ISRO official.

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