India has successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, becoming the fourth country to do so. The Mangalyaan robotic probe, one of the cheapest interplanetary missions ever, will soon begin studying the Red Planet’s atmosphere. A 24-minute engine burn slows down the probe to enable it be captured by Mars’ gravity. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country had achieved the “near impossible”.
Speaking at the mission control centre in the southern city of Bangalore, Modi said: “The odds were stacked against us. Of 51 missions attempted in the world only 21 have succeeded. We have prevailed.”
Only the US, Europe and Russia have previously sent missions to Mars, but India is the first country to succeed on its first attempt. The latest US satellite, Maven, arrived at Mars on Monday.
US space agency Nasa congratulated its Indian counterpart, the Indian Space and Research Organization, ISRO, on Wednesday’s success.
“We congratulate @ISRO for its Mars arrival! @MarsOrbiter joins the missions studying the Red Planet,” the agency tweeted.