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Update: Mars Orbiters En Route to Red Planet

NASA's MAVEN mission to Mars. Credit: NASA

India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). Credit: ISRO

India's outbound Mars probe snaps photo of Earth. Credit: ISRO

Two spacecraft are headed for Mars: NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) and the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mangalyaan probe, also called Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).

MAVEN was hurled Marsward on November 18 and is on track to arrive at Mars on September 22, 2014.

India’s MOM was launched on November 5 and is to reach the red planet’s orbit two days later after MAVEN, by September 24.

MAVEN gull wing

After a boost from an Atlas V rocket, MAVEN is reportedly performing flawlessly.

The spacecraft’s “gull wing” solar arrays have deployed, sending power to the instruments onboard, and mission ground support personnel have confirmed the receipt of telemetry, indicating that communications with the spacecraft are proceeding as expected.

Trans-Mars injection maneuver

Meanwhile, India’s Mars orbiter has performed five orbit raising maneuvers to synch up with its red planet target. Still ahead, however, is a crucial event on December 1, a trans-Mars injection maneuver.

On November 19, the Indian Space Research Organization has released the first image of the Earth taken by the probe’s Mars Color Camera.

In the space snapshot, the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa are shown, as is a storm that is on track to strike the southern Andhra coast on Friday.

By Leonard David

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