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India sends historic mission to Mars
November 5, 2013, 9:09 am


The 300 day mission will place the country in an exclusive club of nations capable of sending probes to Mars [AP]

Aiming for the Red Planet, India has launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (MangalYaan), the country’s first interplanetary foray.

The 300 day mission that started on Tuesday will place the country in an exclusive club of nations capable of sending probes to Mars.

India will join a group comprising the United States, Russia and Europe, if the mission is successful.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) lifted off from the first launch pad at 2:38 pm local time on Tuesday and aims to put the 1,350 kg Mars Orbiter in a long, elliptical earth-orbit.

The $73 million mission aims to explore Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and search for methane in the Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.

Through this totally indigenous mission, India is trying to demonstrate technology that can withstand such long travel, and can communicate from Mars.

Instruments that the satellite will carry include the Lyman Alpha Photometer, a methane sensor, a composition analyser, a camera and an imaging spectrometer.

It will take 10 months for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission to reach the planet after Tuesday’s lift off.

Though India’s Mars mission has cost a fraction of its foreign equivalents, critics have said a developing economy like India’s can not afford to launch space missions while its struggles to feed its poor.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that space missions like these have aided in India’s economic success through satellites which monitor weather and water resources, or enable communication in remote parts of the country.

“We want to tell this country that Mars has a relevance…Science leads to understanding…” urged K Radhakrishnan, ISRO Chairman.

Social media was abuzz with reactions from across India discussing the topic.

“Incredible India: we can go to Mars but cannot provide clean water to our people on Earth,” tweeted Tavleen Singh, noted Indian columnist and political writer.

“We can send that mission to Mars and we can fix our problems on Earth. This is not an either/or situation,” countered journalist Ashok Malik.

India launched its first space programme in 1962. The country is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the moon in 2014.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said earlier this year that the space programme epitomised India’s scientific achievements and benefits the country in a number of areas.

“For India to occupy its right place in the comity of nations, we must promote innovation and technological advancement,” said President Mukherjee .

ISRO’s budget has increased to $1.3 billion in 2012 to 2013.

With inputs from Agencies