India joins Red Planet explorers' club

2014-09-24 14:41
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New Delhi - India on Wednesday placed a spacecraft into orbit around Mars, the first Asian nation to join an elite club of explorers to the Red Planet.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed the successful completion of the Mangalyaan probe's voyage to Mars, after a final "braking" manoeuvre allowed it to be captured by the planet's gravitational pull.

"History has been created today. We have dared to reach out into the unknown and we have achieved the near impossible," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said amid applause at the ISRO command centre in Bangalore.

The insertion of the Mangalyaan craft into orbit means India joins the United States, Europe and former Soviet Union in undertaking successful missions to Mars.

"We congratulate @ISRO for its Mars arrival!" NASA tweeted.

Fewer than 50% of the 51 international Mars missions have been successful, and none on the first attempt.

Mangalyaan, meaning Mars craft in Hindi, reached the sphere of Mars gravitational pull on Monday after a 300-day voyage of around million kilometres.

It is the world's cheapest inter-planetary mission, at a cost of $74m.

The mission comes five years after India sent a probe to the moon.

Among the goals of the Mangalyaan mission is to search for the presence of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, a finding that would support theories that the planet can support primitive life forms.

Read more on:    india  |  mars  |  space

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