From the Washington Post in the USA:
India becomes first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, joins elite global space club
By Rama Lakshmi
September 24 at 2:55 AM
NEW DELHI — India became the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet when its indigenously made unmanned spacecraft entered the orbit of Mars on Wednesday — and the first nation in the world to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt.
The spacecraft called “Mangalyaan,” or “Mars craft” in Hindi, which was launched last November, slowed down just enough to reach orbit early Wednesday, securing India a place in the elite global space club of Martian explorers.
Images of beaming scientists clapping and hugging each other at the command center in the southern city of Bangalore were shown live in a nationally televised broadcast after a breathless, nail-biting countdown during the spacecraft’s final leg.
Over an hour after reaching the orbit, the space agency received the first photographic data of the red planet’s terrain which were transmitted via an antenna located in Canberra, Australia.
Calling it the “national pride event,” the Indian Space Research Organization also showed it live on Facebook and Twitter.
The Headline Today news TV channel called it “India’s date with the Red Planet,” and NDTV 24×7 called it “India’s big leap,” reflecting the surge of national pride. NASA tweeted congratulations to India for its “Mars arrival.” …
More than half of the 51 Mars missions launched globally have failed. India’s successful mission follows those of the United States, Europe and Russia. But India’s mission cost a fraction of NASA’s $670 million Maven, which entered Mars orbit Sunday. The Curiosity Rover, which touched down on Mars in 2012, cost nearly $2 billion.
By comparison, India’s $72 million Mars orbiter is the cheapest interplanetary mission ever. …
Over the next six months, India’s Mangalyaan will study the mineral composition on Mars and also look for the presence of methane, a chemical key to life on Earth.
The spacecraft will send its first set of pictures by Wednesday afternoon.
India has launched 75 satellites since 1975, and its space program has over the years worked on collecting weather data, predicting natural disasters, feeding television and radio stations and also teaching children in remote villages without schools. …
India’s Mars mission has its share of critics, who have said it is an extravagant indulgence for a country where one-third of the population of 1.2 billion have no access to electricity.
A Dutch entrepreneur’s plan to launch a one-way trip to Mars funded by a reality TV show has been criticized by scientists who say that current technology means that the colonists would start dying after just 68 days: here.