India Plans Launch “Mangalyaan” Mission to Mars in November 2013

MarsIn an announcement on Friday at the Indian Science Congress (ISC) by J N Goswam. director of the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad,  Inda will launch a scaled down mission to Mars on November 26-27 2013. The Mission dubbed Mangalyaan (Hindi: Mars-craft) will look for signs of life and reasons why the red planet lost its atmosphere.

The mission will carry five instruments. the Methane Sensor for Mars, capable of scanning the entire Martian disc within six minutes. The Thermal Infrared Spectrometer which will be used to map the surface composition of Mars. The Mars Color Camera, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyze, and the Lyman-alpha photometer which will  measure atomic hydrogen in the Martian atmosphere. If it succeeds this Mars mission will propel India to the elite club of five nations comprising the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan which have all launched similar missions.

The original Mars Mission “Chandrayaan-2”, a India-Russia collaboration was to launch in 2013, has been delayed by the failure of Russian Mars mission Phobos-Grunt. “We have, therefore, decided to go ahead with our Mars mission and hope to set off for the red planet on November 26-27,” Goswami said.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam stated “Mars is an international property. We have to undertake the mission to stake our claim on the planet” .

Unlike Chandrayaaan-2, Mangalayaan is entirely an Indian mission. Isro’s will use the proven PSLV-XL rocket to launch the Mars explorer. “We are gearing up for an October-November launch. If we miss this slot then the next one will come only in 2018,” Goswami said, adding the prototype payloads were ready and the actual payloads would arrive in the next couple of months.

The Rs 470-crore Mars mission will not only demonstrate India’s capability to launch a spacecraft that has to travel 55 million km to 400 million km (depending on the planets’ orbital positions) over 299 days, five instruments on board will probe Mars’ atmosphere, records of water on the planet’s surface and look for methane hotspots.

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