On September 24, 2014 India's first interplanetary mission went into orbit around Mars vaulting India into rarefied company among the countries that have successfully sent a mission to the red planet. By placing the indigenous mission, nicknamed Mangalyaan, in the Mars orbit, India joined Russia, the US and the European Space Agency in the elite club of Martian explorers. The Mars Orbiter Mission -- known as MOM -- closed in on Mars after a journey of 414 million miles since it departed Earth in November 2013. The Mars Orbiter Mission was supposed to spiral into an orbit with a high point nearly 50,000 miles from Mars. On the orbit's closest approach to the red planet, the MOM spacecraft would fly at an altitude of just 263 miles. The solar-powered “Mangalyaan” space probe -- about the size of a compact car -- joins six other missions operating at Mars. The mission carries about 15 kilograms, of scientific instrumentation to gather data on the history of the Martian climate and the mineral make-up of its surface. The mission carries a color imaging camera to return medium-resolution pictures of the Martian surface, a thermal infrared spectrometer to measure the chemical composition of rocks and soils, and instruments to assess the Mars atmosphere, including a methane detector.