Mars project: Payload integration to begin on Monday

Mars project: Payload integration to begin on Monday

As India’s date with the Red Planet nears, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is preparing for the integration of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) that will launch the Mars Orbiter mission in November.

Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan has said the process of integration will begin on Monday in the space agency’s facility in Sriharikota, where the launch is scheduled.

Termed the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the Rs 121-crore project, which was approved in 2012-13 Budget, envisages launching a space probe using the PSLV C-25 by November 2013. It will be placed in an elliptical orbit, the nearest point of which from Mars’s surface will be 500 km and the farthest point will be 80,000 km.

While the integration of the launch vehicle will begin on Monday, well-placed sources in the agency said all the five payloads have reached Isro’s facility in Bangalore where the integration has already begun. “We had received two payloads early this month.

Now, all the payloads have arrived and the integration of the same with the spacecraft has begun. We are expecting to move the spacecraft to Sriharikota by mid-August,” another source said. This will be followed by more tests before the spacecraft is integrated with the launch vehicle.

After leaving the earth’s orbit in November, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for about 10 months and will reach Mars around September 2014.

The 1,350-kg spacecraft will carry five instruments/payloads totaling a mass of 15 kg selected by the Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS), to study the Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy. Among the important things, Isro plans to check for methane, map the surface, besides sending data from the optical imaging payload.

“The primary driving technological objective of the mission is to design and realise a spacecraft with a capability to reach Mars (Martian transfer Trajectory), then to orbit around Mars (Mars Orbit Insertion) which will take about nine months,” sources said.

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