India’s Mars mission spacecraft Orbiter got ‘eclipsed’ early this Monday, and with the Sun blocking the Earth from the Red Planet over the next 15 days, it will stay that way, reports BGR
An official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said:
“Orbiter has entered into a 15-day blackout period, as the Earth is blocked by the sun from the Red Planet till June 22, snapping our communication links with it (spacecraft). As eclipses or blackouts are a cosmic phenomenon in the solar system, no cause for concern as the Orbiter has been put on autonomous mode in advance by sending the required commands from here to survive the eclipse phase.”
Admitting that it was first time that the deep space network would be out of touch with the Orbiter for such a long time, the official said:
“Though our command network will not receive or send any signal during the blackout, we will regain control over the spacecraft after it comes out of the Martian shadow to contact us again.”
Orbiting around Mars since September 24, 2014, the 1,340 kg spacecraft is on an extended life after having completed the six-month intended lifespan on March 24 by conserving the remaining fuel (37kg) onboard.
The space agency’s track and command network center in the city had tested the spacecraft’s ability to survive a solar eclipse by simulating the conditions earlier.
India created history by becoming the first country to enter the Mars orbit in a maiden attempt after a nine-month voyage through the inter-planetary space from the Earth.
The Rs 450-crore Mars mission’s Orbiter was launched on November 5, 2013, on board a polar rocket from ISRO’s spaceport Sriharikota off the Bay of Bengal, about 80 km northeast of Chennai.