The Union Cabinet on 3.08.2012 cleared the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) mission to Mars in 201.
The project, which comes on the heels of the Chandrayaan mission to the moon, envisages putting a spacecraft in the red planet’s orbit to study its atmosphere, with the help of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
India joins the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China in undertaking such an effort.
The launch is slated for November next year from Sriharikota. The Space Commission gave its clearance for the mission in December last.
The spacecraft will have a scientific payload of 25 kg and is proposed to be placed in an orbit of 500×80,000 km around the planet.
Sources in the ISRO said November was chosen, as the planet would be closest to the earth that time. The next such opportunity will come only in the summer of 2018. NASA is also said to be working on a Mars mission in November 2013. The Department of Space (DoS) has indicated to the government that the orbiter will enter Mars’s orbit by September 2014, making it an approximately 300-day voyage.
A team of 185 scientists from different units of the Indian Space Research Organisation will collaborate for this ambitious project.
The main improvisations in the Mars mission over Chandrayaan would be to provide on-board autonomy in communication, enhanced power generation capacity given the large distance from the Sun and in the propulsion systems due to the long distance.
Besides, two ship-borne transportable terminals will be deployed in the Pacific Ocean during the launch phase of the flight. The project will necessitate augmenting the existing Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) to meet the telemetry requirements of this mission.
So far, there have been 42 unmanned missions attempted to Mars, of which 21 have failed in the launch phase itself. However, the DoS has argued that an Indian initiative will “demonstrate our technological capability to reach Martian orbit”. Justifying the mission, the department has also said that the project would bring “strategic advantage” to India in the international decision-making process on matters related to Mars.
The mission is estimated to cost about Rs.450 crore. An initial provision of Rs.125 crore was made in 2012 budget to kick-start the work.
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