Bangalore: The country’s maiden mission to Mars is on course, with its orbiter crossing the halfway mark on its voyage to the red planet, four months after it left the Earth on December 1.

Red letter day: One of the first images of our planet clicked by the Mars Color Camera (MCC) onboard the Mars Orbiter. The picture was taken on November 19 from an altitude of 67,975 km. Pic/ISRO

Mangalyaan, which was launched on November 5 from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, has travelled nearly 337.5 million kilometres till now.

“The spacecraft on, Wednesday at 9.50 am, crossed the halfway mark of its journey to Mars along the designated helio (sun)-centric trajectory in the solar orbit,” the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement.

“In terms of radio distance, the 1,337-kg orbiter is cruising at 39 million km away from Earth, travelling at 1.55 km per second in the sun’s orbit,” the space agency said.

At R450 crore, India’s Mars mission is the cheapest inter planetary mission ever undertaken. The mission intends to explore the presence of methane on the Red Planet with the help of five scientific instruments onboard the spacecraft.

The orbiter is expected to reach the Mars on September 24, when it will become the farthest any Indian object has ever travelled. Incidentally, the spacecraft is crossing the halfway mark a day after the Earth was at its closest to the red planet.