Mars missions race. India takes lead

India aims at sending an orbiter to Mars in 2013. The race for the Red planet unwinds with NASA planning a launch for the same 2013 fiscal year and China somewhat lagging behind. Earlier this month Europe gave a go ahead for a Mars mission with Russia in 2016. Russia and India have also a plan for a joint lunar mission scheduled for 2014.
India is pushing ahead with its ambitious Mars Mission in which an Indian spacecraft will orbit Mars in November 2013.
Senior officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have deliberately set the date of the Mars Mission for November 27, 2013 when the red planet will be closer to earth.
By doing so, India will join the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China who have all sent missions to Mars.
A 320-tonne Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket will be used to carry the orbiter spaceship which will blast off from the Isro launch site at Sriharikota.
The government has cleared this unmanned mission which is expected to cost over `5 billion. The objective of this exercise will be to focus on the life, climate, geology, origin and evolution of the red planet and also to find out if the planet sustains any life forms.
This project will be a major leg up for India’s space programme which had sent Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe to the moon. The spacecraft probe had discovered water on the moon and this discovery had proved a major credibility boost amongst the established space-faring nations.
The spacecraft is expected to take 300 days to reach the Martian orbit with the spacecraft expected to be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars.
Scientific payloads have been shortlisted by Isro’s advisory committee for space sciences and the baseline, solar array and reflector configuration of the satellite have already been finalised.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has finally announced the Mars Orbiter Mission which he believes will be a huge boost to India’s science and technology.
Already, US robot Curiosity is currently on the surface of the red planet after landing on Mars more than a month ago. Nasa scientists believe Curiosity has found clear evidence that its landing site was once awash with water, a key ingredient for life.
Curiosity, a nuclear-powered vehicle, has been designed for a minimum two-year mission.

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