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India launches mission to Mars

India's Mars Orbiter

India’s Mars Orbiter

ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said, the Indian rocket carrying the country’s first Mars orbiter was successfully launched on Tuesday.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said:

“I am extremely happy to announce PSLV-C25 placed Mars orbiter space craft very precisely in elliptical orbit around earth.”

“This is 25th PSLV flight. Now it will be a complex mission to take the Mars orbiter from earth’s orbit to Mars orbit.”

“I salute the ISRO team.”

The Indian space research organization (ISRO) launched its orbiter to the Red Planet on Tuesday — only NASA, the former Soviet Union and the Europeans have previously been successful in operating probes from Mars.

ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV C25 at 2.38 PM from the spaceport here, about 100 km from Chennai, was witnessed among others by Minister of State in PMO, V. Narayanasamy, U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell, Mr. Radhakrishnan and a host of other officials.

Mars Orbiter Spacecraft mounted on top of PSLV-C25 Fourth stage

Mars Orbiter Spacecraft mounted on top of PSLV-C25 Fourth stage

After going around Earth for 20-25 days in an elliptical orbit (perigee of 250 km and apogee of 23,500 km), the Rs. 450-crore orbiter would begin a nine-month long voyage to Mars around 12.42 am on December 1.

It is expected to reach the red planet’s orbit by September 24, 2014 and go around in an elliptical orbit (periapsis of 366 km and apo-apsis of 80,000 km).

The Mars mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is aimed at establishing the country’s capability to reach the red planet and focus on looking for the presence of methane, an indicator of life in Mars.

The Mars Orbiter has five scientific instruments — Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan and congratulated his team on successful launch of Mars mission.

Indian Mars Mission

Indian Mars Mission

Japan made an attempt with the Nozomi orbiter in 1998 but it failed to reach the planet and a Chinese probe was lost along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission in January 2012. The UK’s Beagle 2 probe separated from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter in 2003 but nothing was ever heard from the lander.

It will take 10 months for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission to reach the Red Planet after lifting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre near Chennai. The probe will explore the planet’s surface features, minerals and atmosphere.

India’s space program launched its first Earth satellite in 1975 and put an unmanned probe into orbit around the Moon in 2008. It plans to launch its own manned spaceflight in 2016, though an Indian cosmonaut, Rakesh Sharma, flew aboard a Soviet space mission in 1984.

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