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Mars mission back on track after engine glitch

After a few hiccups, India’s first Mars orbiter spacecraft bounced back into action after a day of concern. The glitch was noticed when ISRO scientists raised its apogee (farthest point from Earth) to more than 1 lakh kilometres on Tuesday.

‘The orbit-raising operation was a success,’ ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan messaged mediapersons early on Tuesday. ‘We are expecting an apogee of 1.18 lakh km.’ According to agency reports the development means that the the spacecraft is now ready to leave Earth's orbit. This exercise, called the trans-Martian injection is planned for 1 December.

On Monday, a halt in the flow of the liquid engine had slowed down the orbit-raising operation, as an apogee of only 71,623km could be achieved as against the desired orbit of 1 lakh km. This was corrected with Tuesday's exercise. What saved the spacecraft were the redundancies (back-up systems) on board the spacecraft. ‘When both the primary and redundant coils were energised together, as one of the planned modes, the flow to the liquid engine stopped. The thrust level augmentation logic, as expected, came in and the operation continued using the attitude control thrusters. This sequence resulted in reduction of incremental velocity,’ ISRO said in a statement.
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