Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Mars-bound mission updates: Mars Orbiter Mission maneuvers, MAVEN detects Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

11-06-2014 10:59 CDT

Topics: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has reported via Twitter that their second trajectory correction maneuver, a 16-second rocket burn amounting to only 1.577 meters per second, executed successfully today. According to the information in my last post on Mars Orbiter Mission -- which was in February -- the second burn was supposed to have taken place in April.; I'm not sure what, if anything, it means that it did not happen until June. Perhaps they combined two planned burns because of their small anticipated size? Edit: A commenter has pointed out to me that ISRO announced in April that the course was close enough to the deisred one that they were able to wave off the first planned trajectory correction maneuver. The spacecraft remains on track for a September 24 arrival at Mars.

It's interesting to see the coverage of this burn in India. NDTV makes much of it being a "tricky maneuver." Deep space operations seem so routine, especially little rocket burns like this one; it's easy for observers like me to become complacent, to dismiss events like this one as commonplace. But the NDTV reporter, Pallava Bagla, is right: there's nothing routine about deep-space operations, where the tiniest mistake can lead to the unrecoverable loss of a one-of-a-kind spacecraft. It's even less routine for India, for whom Mars Orbiter Mission is their very first deep-space operation. Every day that this little spacecraft operates is a step farther into space for India than ever before. So they're owed congratulations, and deserve to pat themselves on the back for today's success.

There are never any new pictures associated with deep-space rocket burns. There's nothing nearby to shoot a photo of. But thanks to Glen Nagle at the Canberra Deep Space Network, I do have a nice photo for this post: two of the great southern-hemisphere radio dishes, both listening to the Mars-bound spacecraft as it performs its little course adjustment.

DSS-43 and DSS-34 dishes tracking Mars Orbiter Mission

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

DSS-43 and DSS-34 dishes tracking Mars Orbiter Mission
The 70-meter DSS-43 and 34-meter DSS-34 dishes of the Canberra Deep Space Network station point toward ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission as the spacecraft prepares to perform a trajectory correction maneuver on June 11, 2014.

Meanwhile, NASA's MAVEN is already getting to work as it cruises toward Mars. The mission reports on their blog that they are busily calibrating and testing science instruments. Yesterday, they posted this "first light" plot for the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph:

MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) made calibration observations of Mars on May 21, 2014, four months before Mars Orbit Insertion (September 21). Despite the spacecraft’s relative great distance from Mars (35 million km or ~22 million miles), IUVS detected the planet and obtained a spectrum of Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range.

Since Mars still appears smaller than a pixel, the spectrum does not yet reveal information about the atmosphere; essentially all spectral features are due to the Sun.

On its own, the graph isn't anything significant; but it promises a productive mission to come for MAVEN at Mars.

First light for MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph


First light for MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph
MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph observed Mars and the Sun on May 21, 2014 from a distance of 22 million miles (35 million km). The spectrum plotted here shows Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range.

Best of luck to both Mars-bound missions for a continued routine cruise!

See other posts from June 2014


Or read more blog entries about: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status


Premnath Kudva: 06/11/2014 10:45 CDT

Emily the April course correction was skipped since an ISRO release said the course had not deviated by much.

Premnath Kudva: 06/12/2014 05:28 CDT

This is the press release regarding the skipping of the April course correction...

Emily Lakdawalla: 06/12/2014 12:30 CDT

Thank you very much, Premnath! I've edited the post.

space fan: 06/14/2014 01:02 CDT

hi Emily can i become a member of planetary society because i live in India ?

Shreerang Kaulgi: 06/15/2014 11:30 CDT

Looks like both MAVEN and MOM are on course and where should be. This should provide good news in September 2014. April TCM was reported not necessary in April 2014 itself.

Emily Lakdawalla: 06/16/2014 01:56 CDT

Space fan, yes indeed! The Planetary Society is an international organization and we welcome members from India. Just go to (or click the "Become a Member" button at the top of this page)

Edgar J. Kaiser: 06/16/2014 02:14 CDT

MOM is emitting a strong S-Band signal on 2292.96 MHz (at spacecraft). UHF_satcom ( ), USA_satcom ( ) and myself ( ) were able to detect the signal with 1 m dishes last night while the probe had been tracked by a Goldstone Deep Space Network antenna. MOM was at a distance of roughly 107 milion km. This was the first first time for me after mid January to detect MOM's signal again.

Dipu Joy: 06/17/2014 01:44 CDT

Million of Miles to go, before we...."The spacecraft so far has traveled a distance of 466 million km as part of its total Journey of 680 million km." (source - ISRO Updates,

indianspacefan: 07/15/2014 04:13 CDT

Emily, for you it might be a regular thing but in a country like India, it is a big thing! The budget of this spacecraft is a minuscule amount for you but it is a huge deal in India. ISRO and other supporting organizations were highly criticized for this mission and spending money which could have been used for the welfare of the poor. A lot of people still need justification for this and such news flashes can only make people realize what a big feat it is and where it would put India in the space race. If you do not respect the emotions of a country, atleast don't mock at it!

Emily Lakdawalla: 07/17/2014 06:05 CDT

indianspacefan, I am not sure why you think I am mocking India, because if you read the paragraph more carefully you will see I am doing the opposite!

WarrenC: 08/02/2014 01:29 CDT

sorry Emily on his behalf . You have always supported and admired indian space program . Thanks for the update .

WarrenC: 08/02/2014 01:35 CDT

No correction manuvere in August

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!