India's Mars Orbiter Launched Successfully

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India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, lifted off successfully from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 2.38 pm on Tuesday. It is India's first interplanetary mission to planet Mars and if successful, would make Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) the fourth space agency to reach Mars after Roscosmos, NASA and ESA. The project, costing Rs 450 crore (US$ 72.6 million), is the cheapest and low cost mission to Mars and at the same time establishes India's self-reliance in the area of space technology in the world.

It is important to note here that this was the first time that an Indian spacecraft had been sent out of the Earth's gravity. The mission would demonstrate the technological capability to reach Mars orbit and carry out experiments. The Polar Space Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C25 placed the Mars Orbiter spacecraft very precisely into an elliptical orbit around Earth. The spacecraft is set to travel for 300 days, reaching Mars orbit in 2014. The instruments on board are aimed at taking 360 degree panoramic pictures of Mars and asses minerals on the planet. Additionally, the instruments will assess what kind of atmosphere once existed on Mars and the level of water on the planet. However, the most important experiment is to check the presence of methane that can indicate what kind of life existed on Mars, if at all.

Overall, 58 space missions have been planned for the 12th Plan period–33 satellite missions and 25 launch vehicle missions. Interestingly, the two important highlights for this mission were that it was the longest PSLV mission (44 minutes) while the previous missions lasted for around 18 minutes, and this was the silver jubilee lift-off of the PSLV. Out of the 25 launches, 24 had been successful in a row.

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India Brand Equity Foundation, November 06, 2013