The country’s low-cost Mars mission which is in rendezvous with the red Planet for an extended period has been presented with the Space Pioneer award for the year 2015 by the US’ National Space Society. It said the National Space Society (NSS) of USA presented the award in recognition of ISRO’s efforts in accomplishing Mars Mission in its very first attempt. Scripting space history, India on September 24, 2014 successfully placed its low-cost Mars spacecraft in orbit around the red planet in its very first attempt, breaking into an elite club of three US, Russia and Europe who have successfully undertaken missions to Mars or its orbit. The ISRO spacecraft was launched on its nine month-long odyssey on a homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013 and had escaped the earth’s gravitational field on December 1. In 2009, NSS, an independent non-profit educational membership organisation, dedicated to the creation of a space faring civilisation, presented similar award to ISRO in recognition of the great accomplishment they have made in the success of the Lunar Probe, Chandrayaan-1. The Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist, ISRO said. The space research organisation also said Mars Orbiter Spacecraft (MOM) is under ‘solar conjunction’ at Mars, which will extend till July 1. The spacecraft is under ‘solar conjunction’ at Mars, which means the spacecraft, which is orbiting Mars, is behind the sun as viewed from the Earth. As a result of this event which happens once in 2.2 years for Mars, communication signals from the spacecraft are severely disrupted by the Sun’s corona (outer atmosphere), it said. The conjunction for Mars Orbiter Spacecraft began on May 27, 2015 and will extend up to July 01, 2015. No commands are transmitted to the spacecraft during this period for safety reasons and only telemetry (spacecraft’s health related information) is monitored. All payload (spacecraft’s scientific instruments) operations are also suspended. Health of the spacecraft is normal, ISRO said. The spacecraft’s life was extended for another six months in March due to surplus fuel. MOM has outlived the “Prime” mission life of six months in Mars orbit and continues to deliver scientifically significant data sets, ISRO said, adding, the team MOM has proficiently handled the scientific, technical, managerial and financial aspects of the mission.