Indian mission to Mars in 2013

Rs 450-cr project will help science, says Manmohan

Indian mission to Mars in 2013

India will send an unmanned probe to the orbit of Mars to study its upper atmosphere as well as the “chemical and mineralogical” features of the Red Planet.

“Recently, the Cabinet approved the Mars orbiter mission. Under this mission, our spaceship will go near Mars and collect important scientific information. This spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort here.

The orbiter will study the upper atmosphere and effects of solar wind and radiation on martian space weather. The on-board sensors will also investigate the chemical and mineralogical features of the planet’s surface.

The total project cost is around Rs 450 crore, including the cost of rocket as well as that of the ground segment, out of which Rs 125 crore was sanctioned in the 2012-13 Union budget, sources in Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said.

The 25-kg Mars payload will be carried by Isro’s polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-XL). It will be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around the planet. The space probe will take almost 10 months to reach Mars that has become a subject of several exploratory studies in the last two decades.

Isro’s first launch target date is November 2013. If the space agency failed to ready the probe by that time, the next window for the launch will come in 2016, followed by another window in 2018 when the Mars will be closest to the earth. “The mission will be a technology demonstrator. A successful mission will prove that we have capability to reach the far away planet and orbit around Mars. This will pave the way for more intense exploratory missions in future,” former Isro chairman and Planning Commission member K Kasturirangan told Deccan Herald.

India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to the Red Planet after the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.

“It is a natural progression for India to try a mission to Mars. So far, all nations, except the US and European Space Agency (ESA), have failed to pull off a successful Mars mission. If successful, it would be a very big achievement for Isro and India,” commented Amitabh Ghosh, an Indian-origin National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) scientist.

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