tryst with Mars will begin in November 2013 to explore the red
planet's atmosphere and search for life-sustaining elements, a top
space official said late Monday.
"We are scheduling to launch the Mars mission Nov 27, 2013 when
the red planet will be closer to the earth for injecting our
spacecraft into its elliptical orbit," Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here.
The Rs.470-crore Mars mission will demonstrate India's capability
to send a spacecraft 55 million km away from earth and look for
life-sustaining elements 500 km away from the Martian surface.
The Indian space agency plans to use a high-end rocket (PSLV-XL)
to launch the 1.4-tonne Martian spacecraft from its Sriharikota
spaceport, about 80 km northeast of Chennai, with nine instruments
to study various aspects of the red planet.
"The Mars mission will make India join the elite club of five top
nations comprising the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan, with
indigenous technology for a 300-day space voyage from the launch
date," Radhakrishnan said.
"If we don't go Mars late next year, we may have to wait for
another 27 months (two years & three months) to embark on such an
ambitious mission when the earth and the red planet will be closer
again," the top scientist pointed out.
As the fourth planet from the sun and smallest celestial object in
the solar system, Mars is terrestrial with breath-taking valleys,
deserts, craters and volcanoes in a thin atmosphere. Named after
the Roman god of war, the red planet has many similarities with
earth like the rotation period and seasonal cycles.
"As in the case of Chandrayaan-1, we will have to take the
spacecraft first into the earth's orbit from 22,000 km to 200,000
km in stages using the propulsion system and fire the rocket's
liquid apogee motor to push it into the Martian orbit after
cruising about 300 days," Radhakrishnan observed.
In the run-up to the launch, the space agency plans to augment the
ground support station such as the deep space network at Bylalu,
about 40 km from this tech hub, and rope in other ground stations
in the region.
"As there will be a 20-minute communication delay in receiving
signals from the Martian orbiter, we need to have high radio
frequency system in the spacecraft and adequate protection for the
effective functioning of its digital instruments," the chairman
For ensuring to have the launch on the D-day (Nov 27), the space
agency plans to have the entire set-up in place by mid-October