India has became the first nation in the world to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt.
The Mangalyaan spacecraft entered the red planet’s orbit on Wednesday, after a journey of more than ten months.
India’s PM Narendra Modi, who is also the minister for space, praised the achievement.
“History has been created today. We have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near-impossible,” he said.
The mission cost 58 million euros – less than the 77 million spent on the Oscar-winning movie ‘Gravity’ about astronauts stranded in space.
Mangalyaan joins NASA’s spacecraft Maven which entered into an orbit around Mars on Sunday, costing almost ten times the Indian mission’s stated cost.
The Indian spacecraft will study the red planet’s surface and scan its atmosphere for chemical methane. It will not land on the surface of the planet.
Euronews correspondent Jeremy Wilks explains: “This is one small step in terms of mars exploration, but it’s a giant leap for the Indian Space Agency. They’ve proved to the world that they can do that tricky thing of flying to another planet, doing that orbital insertion manouevre and managing to fget into position around the red planet. In terms of the science of course they’ll be gathering data about the atmosphere, just as NASA’s probe which arrived on Sunday will be doing, and that’s essential if we’re really thinking of sending humans there by the 2030s.”
Howdy @MarsCuriosity ? Keep in touch. I'll be around.— ISRO's Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 24, 2014
Space agencies ESA and NASA sent congratulatory tweets to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) :