Mission to Mars Launched

A day after the last of Diwali rockets was fired in this part of the country, "the big one" blasted off from the first launch pad in Sriharikota on Tuesday afternoon, firing the ambition of a nation, and the imagination of many others. About 45 minutes later, whenPSLV-C25 had injected the Mars orbiter spacecraft into an Earth orbit, the first phase of India's first Mars mission was pronounced a success. 

"I am happy to announce that the Mars orbiter mission first phase is a success," said Indian Space Research Organization chairman K Radhakrishnan. About 90 minutes after a drizzle raised minor concerns about weather among lay people, the 44.4m PSLV-C25 carrying in its head India's first Mars orbiter, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 2.38pm. 

Drowning the cheers at the mission control, about 7km away, and the nearby media centre, the rocket rose to the sky with a roar, spewing fire and smoke. Soon it disappeared into the clouds, only to re-emerge after a few second to another round of applause.

The nail-biting — albiet expected — phase came soon after the third stage of the rocket burned out, and the blip on the tracking screens disappeared. As Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan had explained earlier, the rocket would be on a coasting phase for almost 25 minutes, 10 minutes of which was a "total blind phase." The mission control witnessed some silent moments during this period. And, when mission director P Kunhikrishnan reported that the first of the two ships in the south Pacific Ocean had tracked the rocket, the scientists' faces lit up.


'Bigger challenges ahead' 

About 35 minutes into the flight, the rocket was cruising at an altitude "slightly higher than the expected trajectory," as a scientist put it. "But it will self-correct its course," he assured. And correct it did, after the fourth-stage engine fired on its own, bringing the rocket back to life. Soon, the orbiter was injected into an elliptical Earth orbit in what Kunhikrishnan called a "precision exercise." What follows in the next 10 days would be six crucial "orbit raising operations," in the wee hours of November 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 16. 

And then, at 12.42am on December 1, the orbiter will leave the earth's orbit for a 300-day journeyto the red planet. "It's only the beginning; bigger challenges are ahead," said the Isro chairman. "We expect the orbiter to be in Mar's orbit on September 24, 2014."

 Before India, five nations have launched Mars missions. So, is India trying to be an also-ran? Why is India trying to boldly go where many have gone before? The answers lie in India's rightful ambitions to remain in the select league of space-faring nations, mankind's unending quest for the unknown, and a bit of business.

When uncertainty fuels curiosity

Just because the previous Mars missions did not find anything conclusive about methane or water or other indicators of life doesn't mean that the Indian mission may not find any. Critics had put forth a similar argument when India was preparing for Chandrayaan-1, but the moon mission found something even men who walked on moon could not: moisture in the polar region of moon.

The same logic works here. If the Indian mission finds methane or new patterns of deuterium that suggest early presence of water, it would change the way earthlings see Mars and other planets. "Some say why spend Rs 460 crore on this mission. Such simple economics don't work here. You never know if we may find something that's worth much more than that figure," says Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan.

Uncertainty, as much as curiosity, has been at the core of every scientific exploration. Isro satellites programme director Mylswamy Annadurai calls the Mars orbiter mission a logical progression of the moon mission. "We are relaxed and confident, but then anxiety is a human trait. People who ask what we are going to fi nd would understand that not finding something is also a fi nding, a discovery that something is not there," he said.

Previous missions and groundbased calculations have found methane in Martian atmosphere, but none have been able to conclude if they definitely indicated early life. This is because methane could be of geological as well as biological origin. Whatever the source, finding methane — which one of the five scientific instruments on board the Mars orbiter would try — would add considerably to research on the red planet. The Lyman alpha photometer, meanwhile, would be looking for abundance of deuterium and hydrogen in the Martian upper atmosphere, which are indicators of early possible existence of water.

A point to prove

Will the Mars mission do all this? Nobody knows for sure. The Isro chairman is not apologetic when he says this mission is 85% a technology demonstration and the rest scientific quest. This means that India has to demonstrate — however late it is — its interplanetary mission capabilities to retain its place in the spacefarers' club.

"This is our first step in the field," says Radhakrishnan. "We have to take this step before bigger steps." He adds that only 21 of the 51 missions by the US and Russia/USSR have been successful. "That speaks of how complex the mission is. Getting the orbiter to go around the Mars itself would be a mark of success." Isro is confident of remaining in Mars orbit for about five months.

Money matters

Such missions boost Isro's capabilities and credibility so much so that more nations turn to India for their space missions and collaborations. A successful — or even attempted — Mars mission will boost Isro's image, and Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of Isro, can well be a money-spinner.

India's Mars mission is a major step forward in exploring the solar system that was completed by Indian scientists in just 15 months, said the euphoric scientific community Tuesday.
India is the first Asian country and the fourth entity after Russia, the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) to leap into interplanetary space with an exploratory mission to Mars, about 400 million km from planet Earth.
Amitabha Ghosh, chairman, Science Operations Working Group - Mission Operations at the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission, said it's a significant milestone for India.
"It is important to develop capability and also try to do something unique and not something done before. The real moment for India will come when it enters into Mars gravitation," Ghosh said.
Renowned space scientist K. Kasturirangan commended the way Indian scientists were able to complete the mission within 15 months of the announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"I think first of all given the 15 months' time to take the mission to first level is something unbelievable for space programme of this level... something we all should be proud of," Kasturirangan said.
"It will become an important milestone for India when it completes 300 days and enters Mars orbit," Kasturirangan said.
Mission director P. Kunhikrishnan said: "With the precise injection of the spacecraft in the desired initial orbit, the crucial part of the mission for its long journey to Mars has been achieved. It is the 25th mission of the PSLV rocket."
Professor Yashpal, founding father of ISRO, lauded India's effort to chart its own path by launching the mission and not following others.
"There are a whole lot of programmes going on in the ISRO and the best part is that you are making your own path and not following anyone else's," he said.
Professor U.R. Rao, who had conducted the feasibility study of the Mars mission, said: "It is indeed a great day for India as something that has gone out of our own cradle. I can proudly say India has become mature. I hope we get very good results."
"I was talking to some scientist friends in the US and they told me why Indians are shouting about Rs.500 crore spent on the mission, it is the biggest day for the whole of India."
"Indians can be proud after spending Rs.5,000 crore on Diwali firecrackers, which don't go beyond 10 metres and with Rs.500 crore, we are going to Mars," said Rao, former ISRO chairman.
The spacecraft will enter the Martian orbit in September 2014.
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre director S. Ramakrishnan said: "It is a historic mission. The PSLV has again proved to be a reliable rocket with a text-book launch, which is the first step."
Mission's authorisation board member M. Chandradatan said: "It is an excellent mission, with the team work of all ISRO centres as it had a very complicated design. We have achieved the first important step in the long mission and getting into the Earth's orbit."
Former Space Commission member Roddam Narasimha from Sriharikota told IANS: "It is a distinct forward step and India is working towards a new horizon in exploring the solar system. We have only seen the first phase of the project and have to wait for over nine months to watch from Earth before the spacecraft reaches the Martian orbit."

In the press conference that followed soon after the Mars orbiter launch, a foreign journalist asked what has now become a routine question: why should India send a mission to Mars when millions are in poverty? Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan told him about the benefits of the space programme, but the journalist persevered. Benefits of the space programme are evident, but not so much the benefits of going to Mars, especially for the poor.

Radhakrishnan then talked about how not going to Mars will make Isro rapidly out-of-date with technology. It is not clear whether all the hundreds of journalists assembled at Sriharikota were entirely satisfied.

The Mars mission is not an isolated mission for the organisation. Isro, or any organisation worth its salt, never plans isolated missions. Every programme feeds into another programme, and technology developed for one mission is used for another. This happens so frequently that it rarely makes sense to focus on individual missions and question their validity. Space technology is as inclusive as any other. The Mars mission will feed into subsequent missions of Isro. For engineers, this fact is as obvious as daylight. However, there are subtleties that are not so obvious to the public, and they need to be stressed.

With the launch of the Mars orbiter, Isro has taken a few step-ups on the complexity ladder of space technology. Learning to handle a complex mission has its spin-offs in every area of life and business.

Isro has yet to master the geostationary launch vehicle and its difficulties, a task that could take several years or even a decade, but it has also to look ahead after the GSLV. Going to the moon or planets bring on a new set of challenges, and the development of a new set of technologies. An organisation that does not develop them will soon fall behind in space technology, no matter how good it becomes on sending satellites into earth orbit.

Even without a geostationary launcher, a class of vehicles all other countries use to send satellites to Mars, this mission was no less complex for Isro than it was for other countries. It is not a trivial fact that two-thirds of all Mars missions have failed. Using a smaller rocket, even when as well-tested like the PSLV, does not make the mission any less sophisticated.

In fact, it has probably made it more complex, as Isro also made it in quick time with very little money. The low energy budget introduced new complexities. The changing weather gave it another dimension.

Alarge vehicle and its satellite together use every kind of technology imaginable. It needs the right configuration of the vehicle. The PSLV is now a mature design, but consistent manufacturing is always a challenge. So is testing. More than anything else, integration is different and difficult for each mission. A small error, only a millimetre's difference in the size of a device, will lead to failure. There is some learning with each new project.

Finally, there is science to reckon with. Isro's mission is primarily a scientific mission. Mars is one of the hottest topics, if not the hottest, in astronomy today. Understanding Mars is key to understanding the Earth, its past and future. Mars may once have had life. Its conditions four billion years ago were good for life. In fact, it may even have seeded the Earth with life. Understanding all this is necessary to design the future Earth. We may one day need to even leave the Earth and live on Mars.

Science does not belong to the rich countries alone. When investing in science, it is hard to pick and choose topics according to utility. No one knows what will be useful.

India, being a large country with a large scientific infrastructure, has an obligation to invest in space science. This is particularly so because Isro's budget is frugal. The entire world can learn from India when it comes to low-cost space engineering. The Mars mission is a drop in the ocean when the total budget of the country is considered. Space has to move on.

Likening India's Mars probe to putting 'a golf ball from Tokyo in a hole in Paris', Chinese experts have termed Manglaayan's launch as "a great achievement" which if successful could make India the first Asian country to achieve this fete.

Indian launch should be interpreted rationally as "a great achievement" of India that also deserves applause from the rest of the world,Ye Hailin, an expert on South Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciencessaid.

"Like the Chinese, Indian people have their space dreams as well. The Mars orbiter, if successful, will increase the human race's store of knowledge and change our life," Ye told state-run China Daily.

Official dailies here front-paged the successful launch of the India's Mars mission, focussing on India taking the lead inMars exploration over China.

Ye also said China and India may work together to explore space instead of being engaged in what was called "aerospace competition".

In his reaction yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said thee outer space is "the common heritage of mankind" and the international community should cooperate to maintain the permanent peace and sustainable development of outer space.

Pang Zhihao, a researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology, said ultimate outcome of the current Indian venture remains to be seen, as the successful launch was only the start of a year-long mission.

"The difficulty of getting the orbiter into orbit around Mars is equal to hitting a golf ball from Tokyo into a hole in Paris," Pang said adding that China is ready to conduct its own exploration of Mars in the near future.

"The carrier rocket Long March 5, with its 25 metric tons of low-Earth orbit carrying capacity and 14 tonnes of geostationary transfer orbit carrying capacity, can fully sustain our own Mars exploration projects," he said.

Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Peking Universitytold the daily that "with the mission launched within a very short period, India eyes the political influence hereby brought and intends to be the first one in Asia that orbits Mars."

The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Saturday performed the last of the five orbit-raising manoeuvre on its Mars Orbiter in the early hours, raising the apogee (farthest point from Earth) of the spacecraft to over 1.92 lakh km.
"The fifth orbit-raising manoeuvre of Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, starting at 01:27am (IST).. with a burn time of 243.5 seconds has been successfully completed. The observed change in apogee is from 1,18,642 km to 1,92,874 km," Isrosaid.
In the series of five orbit-raising manoeuvre with a supplementary operation after the fourth one, the space agency had raised the apogee of the spacecraft to over 1.92 lakh km.
After the successful completion of these operations, the Mars Orbiter Mission is expected to take on the "crucial event" of the trans-Mars injection around 12.42am on December 1. It will reach the orbit of the red planet by September 24, 2014 after taking on a voyage of over 10 months.
Isro's PSLV-C25 successfully injected the 1,350-kg 'Mangalyaan' Orbiter (Mars craft) into the orbit around the earth some 44 minutes after a text book launch at 2.38pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on November 5, marking the successful completion of the first stage of the Rs 450 crore mission.

When a teenager hijacked plane with a toy pistol - RAW Operation

1) What we know is there were two Kashmiris, Hashim Quereshi and his cousin Ashraf Butt, who went on to highjack an Indian Airlines plane named ‘Ganga’ using a Toy Pistol.
2) They take the craft to Lahore, burn it down, Pakistan was happy, they were treated as heroes, Pakistan created a mini-media spectacle thinking it would promote the Kashmiri cause. Passengers were safe, as the intention was to, apparently, promote the “cause” and advertise it to the world.
A picture of the type of aircraft in question. Ganga was an old Fokker F27 Friendship Indian Airlines aircraft.
3) On January 31, Z.A. Bhutto, Pakistani PM to be and the most prominent Politician of the then West Pakistan, visited the airport and embraced the two hijackers as true champions of the Pakistani cause. After five days, he issued a statement to the effect that the hijackers were “two brave men” and their deed demonstrated that “no power on earth can stifle the Kashmiris’ struggle for liberation.” The Pakistani authorities justified the hijacking which they described as the direct result of repressive measures taken by the Government of India in Kashmir.
4) Indian Government seethes with anger and bans overflight from West Pakistan to East Pakistan. A major blow, considering soldiers were being transported in civilian disguise in civilian planes, for the impending bloody massacre of fellow Pakistanis by Pakistani soldiers; and the war that is to follow. The crucial air link is cut off.
5) India liberates “Bangladesh” from Pakistan.
Till now facts speak for themselves. But, strange things begin to happen.
1) Pakistan jails one of the high-jackers for 19 years! Labelling them agents of India and calling one of them BSF. They realised that this Highjacking was used by Indira Gandhi to ban overhead flights between the 2 wings of Pakistan.
2) It comes to be known that the aircraft in question was the oldest of its type in the fleet of the Indian Airlines, was in a poor state of maintenance and lacked certain items of equipment usually carried on such aircraft. Basically the loss of the craft was no-big-deal. It was old and dusty.
3) Now, G.M. Sadiq, the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, calls this an Indian plan. Basically, a false flag operation by India.
Who benefits, who loses?
To put things simply. Pakistan loses, India gains tremendously.
Pakistani losses: Pakistan wanted to highlight India’s actions in Kashmir. But, ended up getting cut off from its own Eastern wing. By helping the Terrorists, Pakistan forces India’s hand to ban the overhead flights between the 2 wings.
Considering most of the troop movement used to happen using these overhead flights, under civilian disguise, this was a major blow to Pakistani war efforts and a disruption of troop movement.
Indian gains: Needless to say, India had nothing but to gain from these two idiotic youths taking their plane to Lahore. Even the Aircraft, as it turned out, was old and had no real value. No passengers were hurt(even though their lives were at risk). India gets a solid reason to ban the overhead flight privileges, stops the Pakistani troop movement, escalates the cost and time to transport the troops from West wing to the East for Pakistan.
When Pakistan jails the Terrorist accusing them of acting on behalf of India, India manages to ignite few protests against Pakistan by Kashmiris in Pakistan and outside of the Sub-Continent(Owning to pressure of overseas Kashmiris and the disquiet of Kashmiris in PoK, Pakistan had to release the Terrorist, who later gives up arms to pursue a peaceful resolution of Kashmir. I wonder why!).
Into the realm of speculation and conjecture
Now, with our bases covered, lets look at the interview of the high jacker, who now lives in India.
The interview can be found here:
“In a haircutting salon in Lal Chowk, I met a Kashmiri Border Security Force (BSF) officer. I told him I wanted to go to Pakistan. He agreed to help me cross the border provided I brought some information the BSF needed. I agreed and the BSF managed my clandestine entry into Pakistan through the Sialkot border.”
He was actually double-crossing the BSF. In Pakistan, Hashim was trained for the hijack.
“Maqbool Bhat said to highlight the Kashmir problem we must hijack an Indian plane. Javaid Mantoo, a retired pilot, helped familiarise me with a Fokker Friendship plane. He took me to Chaklala airport where I was allowed to see the plane from inside.”
After hijack training, Hashim crossed back into Kashmir from the Sialkot border.
“I boarded a bus, but the bus was stopped by police and I was caught with a pistol and a hand grenade. I was taken to a BSF interrogation centre. I told them how I had been trained along with three others for the hijack in Pakistan.
“I was asked by the BSF to keep a watch at the Srinagar airport. An advertisement appeared in a newspaper about the sale of a look-real pistol which could be used to scare away thieves. I ordered one by post. I fabricated a wooden hand grenade and painted it with metallic colour.”
Now, tell me if this isn’t better than Argo!
Indira Gandhi, whom the liberated, free citizens of Bangladesh begin to call “Maa Durga”, deserves a lot of credit, for quickly using this as a justification for banning the flights, imposing a major tactical disadvantage on the Pakistanis. Apart from the CM of J&K saying this was an Indian operation, no accounts of this have been released by India and R&AW.
You can guess why – People in the aircraft(Indian citizens) were put at risk, intentionally, by the planners. Admitting this would create a controversy within India, as to why Indian civilians were put in harm’s way. India loses face at the international level, as India had long maintained that it did nothing to precipitate the war and war was forced upon it.
R&AW might not be as glamorous, or might have the technology of a CIA, but if this indeed, seems very likely it was, a R&AW operation, full marks to it. It achieved the desired result, with zero lives lost, no damage to the infrastructure and sowing the seeds of confusion in the opposing ranks. India gets what it wants – Stop movement of troops from West Pakistan to the East, thereby escalating the cost and the time required to transport the troops.
All of this using a Toy Pistol and a wooden “grenade”. And, we think CIA’s hunt of Osama was awesome!


Emerging markets like Brazil, South Africa initiate reforms in patent laws in line with India’s IP policy

Days before the Supreme Court ruled that Novartis’ cancer drug Glivec is not a new invention good enough to be granted patent in April, a top executive of Pfizer had told a US Congress sub-committee, “India’s action reverberates far beyond its borders.”

That was perhaps the worst fear of Big Pharma, and it seems to be coming true with key emerging markets Brazil and South Africa initiating reforms in their patent laws in line with India’s intellectual property policy. And global experts now expect other developing countries to follow suit.

“Both Brazil and South Africa have been greatly influenced by India’s decision to incorporate TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities designed to prevent evergreening of patents and to increase access to affordable medicines,” Brook Baker, professor at Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, told ET.

Most global experts ET spoke to feel that the globally debated Supreme Court judgment on Glivec became a critical trigger in reviving patent reforms debate across emerging economies.

“I think that the Indian legislation has influenced both the South Africa draft IP policy and the Brazilian proposed reform of the patent law,” Carlos Correa, eminent IP expert and a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, said.

Brazil earlier this month tabled in its Parliament proposed changes in its patent policy that “clarifies matters that are not considered to be inventions: such as new use patents and new forms of known substances — along the lines of the Indian Patent Act as revised in 2005”.

It also recommends “increase in the standard of inventive step in order to promote incremental innovation, along the lines of the Indian Patent Act”.

South Africa, in a draft patent policy on which it has invited public comments, has recommended allowing opposition to a patent before and after it is awarded “to effectively foster spirit of granting stronger patents”.

The draft released last month says, “A country like India resorted to pre and post-grant opposition to facilitate a possibility of opposing weaker patents… This procedure has been a success to challenge ‘weaker patents’.”

Both Correa and Baker think Section 3(D) of Indian Patent Act, which bars award of patent to frivolous and obvious incremental innovations and was at the heart of the Supreme Court’s Glivec judgment, has been a clear inspiration for Brazil.

“The Indian influence is perhaps most evident in case of Brazil in relation to the standard of patentability, since the proposed reform partially relies on the concepts incorporated in Section 3(D) of Indian Patents Act,” Correa said.

Experts now feel many smaller economies in the Africa and Latin America will initiate similar patent reforms to protect public health interests at home.

“One can expect that with these two powerful technologically proficient developing countries making the move, other developing countries are likely to follow suit,” Shamnad Basheer, an IP expert, said.

According to Basheer, Big Pharma's anguish at India striking a different patent chord was not so much about the relatively minuscule Indian market and their expected losses from patent invalidations and compulsory licensing. It was more about the fear of other countries following suit and this fear is now playing out.

Baker said that by moving in the same direction, India, Brazil and South Africa — all BRICS members — are also demonstrating an IP leadership that is having positive precedential effect in other countries such as Uganda and Zambia among others.

The development comes when India’s jurisprudence on patents is still evolving and the court's decision on many important patent battles such as the one between US multinational Merck Sharp & Dohme and domestic firm Glenmark on diabetes drug Januvia would shape the Indian patent landscape further.

Leena Menghaney of Medecins Sans Frontiers feels that the Supreme Court decision on Glivec provided an impetus for public health groups to accelerate this debate in Brazil and South Africa where public interest and treatment groups are running ‘fix the patent laws’ campaigns relentlessly to reduce abuse of the patent system by pharma companies. Not everyone agrees though.

MM Kleyn, fellow of the chair of intellectual property at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, said that apart from some arbitrary references in the draft that South Africa should follow the mould of “similar economies such as Brazil, India and Egypt” and few brief references, “there is no supporting empirical evidence or research that allows for any form of systematic and consequential analysis of the draft policy of South Africa”.

India's Mars Mission is a big leap

If the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifts off on November 5 from Sriharikota as planned, it will be watched by more than a normal share of anxious eyes. It is a difficult mission, and fickle weather adds to the complexity.

But ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan is not prone to fits of worry. "The PSLV is the best vehicle in its class," he says, "which is why many countries are using it now to launch their satellites." A mission to Mars will require taking into account the influence of earth, the moon, the sun and, of course, the destination planet, all of which keep changing positions with the day of the launch.

A small error in calculation will miss the target by tens of thousands of miles. "The spacecraft's arrival point on Mars has to be calculated to an accuracy of 60 miles about 280 days in advance," says Radhakrishnan. "It takes beyond textbook mechanics to achieve this precision." An excursion to the red planet does not come easy to even to the most experienced.

The Russians have a long history of failures in Mars missions. The Chinese have not yet attempted its own mission, and so Mangalyaan is extra special for India. "It will be a big leap for the country," says Goverdhan Mehta, space commission member. The Americans, Russians and Europeans have used larger rockets for their Mars missions. India is using the smaller PSLV, usually used to put small satellites into a low-earth orbit over the poles. The launch window to Mars is very small, the next one being available only in 2018. ISRO has already postponed the launch once due to bad weather.

If the PSLV does not go up before November 19, ISRO has to wait for another five years to get similar conditions. The PSLV is India's most mature rocket. ISRO has launched 35 satellites so far using PSLV and 10 are in waiting list for launch. The Mars mission will use PSLV in new ways, thereby adding new complexities. The trajectory of the spacecraft is very different to begin with.

The spacecraft’s arrival point on Mars has to be calculated to an accuracy of 60 miles about 280 days in advance,” says Radhakrishnan.

This new trajectory, the calculations for which are different for each launch date, requires a long coasting of the rocket between third and fourth stage. "The management of the long coast between third and fourth stage is a complex issue," says V Adimurthy, Satish Dhawanprofessor and senior advisor (interplanetary missions) of ISRO. There is only one time slot for lift-off- with five minutes leeway - available for launch during a specific day.

"The time of lift-off and required coasting duration is different for each day of launch; and one has to work out a series of different trajectory management strategies corresponding to each possible launch date," says Adimurthy. The satellite is first launched into an elliptical orbit at a velocity far less than what is required - over 11 km per second - for it to escape from the earth.

To make it come up to this velocity would require three to five manouevres using rockets in the spacecraft, depending on the velocity and position of the spacecraft when first injected. When it finally reaches Mars, not more than 60 km away from the intended spot, the spacecraft has to slow down for it to be captured into the Mars orbit. If this is not done with precision, the spacecraft will either fly by or crash into the Martian surface.

Some of the difficulty is in the constraints imposed by the need to lower energy use. "We have devised an orbit that reaches Mars with minimum use of energy," says Radhakrishnan. The more the energy required for the travel, the more the fuel the spacecraft has to carry, and hence the more the weight and more the cost. Other constraints were imposed by the harsh interplanetary environment like intense cold and high radiation.

Delay in communication is another problem as the spacecraft moves further and further away from the earth. The spacecraft has considerable autonomy to take decisions during critical periods.

When the Mangalyaan project was conceived, ISRO got 30 ideas for experiments. Out of these, nine instruments were possible to build and five were flyable. "So all the experiments possible were accommodated," says Radhakrishnan. One of this is a methane sensor. Finding methane conclusively on Mars would be a major achievement for Mangalyaan.

The Indian Space Research Organization completed integration of itsMars mission satellite on Sunday with therocket while the heat shield is expected to be closed in couple of days, an official said. 

"The 1,340 kg satellite was mated with the rocket today (Sunday). The heat shield will be closed in two or three days after tests. Everything is progressing normally on the rocket and the satellite side," an Isro official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS. 

On Saturday Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan told IANS that the Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will be delayed by a week as out of of the two ships — Nalanda and Yamuna — carrying rocket tracking systems, only the latter has reached Fiji. 

The Nalanda is expected to reach there October 21. From there, both the ships have to travel to their respective locations to track the rocket, Isro officials told IANS. 

The ships have terminals to track the rocket, which has a coasting period of around 20 minutes beyond the visibility of existing ground stations. 

The Malgalyaan mission was originally slated for October 28 from Isro's rocket launch centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 80km from here. 

According to Isro officials, there is no problem as far as the mission is concerned. 

Radhakrishnan said as the launch window is between October 28 to November 19, the revised launch date will be decided October 22 after the ship reaches Fiji. 

Incidentally October 22 is seems to be a special date for Isro. It is a Tuesday and in Tamil, Mars planet is called Sevvai Graham and Tuesday is also called Sevvai. In Hindi, Mars is called Mangal and Tuesday is Mangalwar. 

India's first inter-planetary mission was to the Moon October 22, 2008 at an outlay of around Rs 390 crore.