India’s Mangalyaan Mission To Head To Mars In November 2013

India is all set for its maiden November 2013 launch, said top space official, Professor U. R. Rao of the Physical Research Laboratory.

AsianScientist (Sep. 12, 2013) – India is all set for its maiden November 2013 launch, said Professor U. R. Rao of the Physical Research Laboratory.

“The unmanned mission, which will explore the existence of life and the possibility of sustaining life on Mars, will travel 299 days in space before reaching the Red Planet in September 2014,” he said.

In August 2012, the Indian Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the November 2013 mission to Mars. The space commission had cleared the project earlier in December 2011.

The first indication that the mission would be approved by the government came in March 2012 when its budgetary allocation was increased from Rs. 10 crores to Rs. 126 crores.

Another indication was that the ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan announced at the 39th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, held at Mysore on July 14, 2012, that approval for the Indian Mars mission was expected soon.

The Mangalyaan probe is slated for lift off in November 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, and the spacecraft will enter into a 500 by 80,000 km orbit around the Red Planet in September 2014. It will be an orbiting mission and there will be no lander. About 200 ISRO scientists are working to implement the program.

If for some reason ISRO misses the November 2013 launch window, the next opportunity will be in 2016 and then again in 2018.

The primary role of the mission is to study the Martian atmosphere, climate and geology, and also the origin, evolution and sustainability of life on Mars.

According to the Department of Space, the Indian Mars orbiter “is derived from the Chandrayaan heritage and takes into account the lessons learnt from that project.”

The Department of Space states that the “Indian initiative will demonstrate our capability to reach the Martian atmosphere. It will bring strategic advantage to India in the international decision-making process on matters related to Mars.”

In October 2012, the Indian Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) program crossed an important milestone with the successful test firing for the first time of the liquid apogee motor. The test was carried out at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center at Mahendra Giri in Tamil Nadu.

An ISRO official said that the challenge in the mission was that the engine has to restart after 300 days when the orbiter enters the Martian orbit.

After going around the earth six times, the orbiter will depart for Mars on November 26, 2013 and enter the Mars orbit on September 21, 2014. This is known as the Mars Orbit Insertion and is a crucial and nail biting operation.

NASA is also planning to launch a mission to Mars in November 2013 called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or Maven, which will also study the Martian atmosphere. Maven’s launch period is between November 18 and December 7, 2013.

With the Indian orbiter’s November launch, India will be the sixth country to head to Mars after the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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