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ISRO gets set for Mars mission news
08 July 2013

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up for its first mission to Mars, slated for October-November.

The Mars Orbiter mission, ISRO's first into a distant planet, will help it understand the technological challenges of such an exploration.

The mission will try to find out why the Red Planet lacks an atmosphere like the earth while also searching for possible signs of life on it.

ISRO will use the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to launch the Rs450-crore Mars Orbiter mission.

The PSLV launch vehicle carrying the Mars Orbiter will blast of from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota within the launch window of 21 October - 19 November, a period during which Mars will be closest to Earth.

The orbiter is expected to exit the Earth's orbit in the last week of November and travel for at least 10 months before reaching Mars in September 2014.

"As per plans, the satellite is expected to exit the Earth orbit on November 26/27, travel towards Mars over around 300 days. We plan to insert the satellite in an orbit around Mars on 22 September 2014," the Hindu earlier quoted an ISRO official as saying.

The Mars orbiter will be carrying compact science experiments with a total mass of about 14.49 kg. It will carry a methane sensor to determine the presence of methane, a sign, which suggests that life once existed on the Martian soil.

The five payloads of the Orbiter mission include a Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP) for studying the escape processes of Mars upper atmosphere through deuterium/hydrogen, methane sensor for Mars (MSM) to detect presence of methane while Martian exospheric composition explorer (MENCA) would study the neutral composition of the Martian upper atmosphere.

MARS colour camera (MCC) would undertake optical imaging and TIR imaging spectrometer (TIS), which is targeted at mapping surface composition and mineralogy.

The satellite will enter a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars. The spacecraft will orbit the Red Planet once in every three days. It will study the surface and the minerals on Martian soil.

The PSLV-XL (PSLV-C25) will inject the spacecraft from the spaceport of Sriharikota in the 250 X 23000 km orbit.

After leaving earth orbit in November, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for 10 months using its own propulsion system and reach the Martian transfer trajectory in September 2014.

Besides the Mars Orbiter, ISRO has also planned a series of launches of various satellites both from the country and Kourou, French Guiana, during the current financial year.

India's communication satellite INSAT-3D is slated to be launch onboard Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana by the end of this month while the European spaceport would also launch the GSAT-7 during the year.

GSAT-14 would be launched on board GSLV on August 6 to be followed by SPOT-7, earth observation satellite, which would be put in space by a PSLV in December this year, ISRO has said.

The Indian space agency also planned to undertake GSLV Mark III experimental mission in January next year and launch the country's second navigation satellite IRNSS-1D in March.

IRNSS-1A, the first in the series of seven navigation satellites under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), was launched onboard PSLV C22 from Sriharikota on July 2.

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ISRO gets set for Mars mission