Bangalore: India created space history by becoming the first country in the world to enter Mars’ orbit on its debut. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was beaming with pride, described it as ‘achieving the near impossible’, congratulated the scientists.

Mars orbit celebration
Yeah, we did it! ISRO staffers express their delight after MOM entered the Mars orbit yesterday morning

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) traversed over 650 million km through deep space for over nine months to successfully reach the Red Planet’s orbit. The US, Europe and Russia had failed in their first attempts.

ISRO chairperson  Dr K Radhakrishnan
PM Narendra Modi congratulates ISRO chairperson Dr K Radhakrishnan. pics/AFP

“The spacecraft (Orbiter) successfully entered the Martian orbit at 7.55 am and is located at about 515 km from its surface...,” a senior space official at the mission control centre.

Radars at the earth stations of NASA at Goldstone in the US, Madrid in Spain, Canberra in Australia and India’s own deep space network at Baylalu near Bangalore received the radio signals from the Orbiter, confirming its insertion into the Mars orbit.

Modi, who witnessed the event from an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility in Bangalore, said that the successful Mars mission ‘must become a base for challenging the next frontier’.

“The success will go down as landmark in history,” the Prime Minister said. India’s Mars mission is ‘a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation’ and we have gone beyond boundaries of human enterprise and imagination, he added.

The 475 kg (dry mass) Orbiter will take 77 hours or 3.2 earth days to rotate around the red planet over the next six months and will study its surface and mineral composition and scan its atmosphere for methane gas in search of life-sustaining elements.

Indians, including those living abroad, were elated and many took to Facebook and Twitter saying ‘mission accomplished’. #Mangalyaan #MissionMars #proudindian were some of the top trending topics on Twitter and Facebook since Wednesday morning.

The state-run ISRO became the fourth international space agency after National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US, Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) and European Space Agency to have undertaken successful missions to Mars.

The success of the mission to Mars will ‘inspire our scientists to make even greater strides’, said President Pranab Mukherjee. He described it as a ‘historic achievement’.