BANGALORE, India- India became the first nation to reach Mars on its maiden attempt Wednesday when its low-cost Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet after a 10-month journey.
“India has successfully reached Mars… History has been created today,” a jubilant Prime Minister Narendra Modi said from mission control after entry into orbit was confirmed at 8:02am (0232 GMT).
“We have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near impossible,” he added amid raucous cheering from scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s base near Bangalore.
The success of the mission, which is designed to search for evidence of life on the Red Planet, is a huge source of national pride for India as it leaves its Asian rivals, including China, in the shade.
India now joins an elite club of the United States, Russia and Europe who can boast of reaching Mars. More than half of all missions to the planet have ended in failure, including China’s in 2011 and Japan’s in 2003.
No single nation had previously succeeded at its first go, although the European Space Agency, which represents a consortium of countries, did also pull it off at its first attempt.
Now Mangalyaan has reached Mars, the probe is expected to study the planet’s surface and scan its atmosphere for methane, which could provide evidence of some sort of life form.
Mangalyaan is carrying a camera, an imaging spectrometer, a methane sensor and two other scientific instruments.