At 2:38 pm on November 5, 2013 a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 will lift off from Sriharikota spaceport with the aim of reaching the red planet Mars. If the mission is successful then the PSLV-C25 will travel for almost 300 days, cover 680 million kilometres and reach Mars on September 24, 2014.
The mission will catapult the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) into a select list of countries to have sent a mission to Mars successfully. ISRO would be the fourth space agency in the world to have sent a mission to Mars. European Space Agency (ESA) of European consortium, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and Roscosmos of Russia are the only three agencies which have so far sent their missions to the red planet. Only 21 of the total of 51 missions sent to Mars by various countries have been successful.
Here are some factoids for Mars Mission:
It's India's first ever mission to another planet, a mission that goes to Mars to study the red planet for six months by orbiting it.
With this mission's success, India will join a niche group of nations.
ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission will take nine months to reach Martian orbit, and orbit around it for six months to conduct targeted experiments.
There are five instruments on board the spacecraft that will conduct these experiments.
The instruments are aimed at taking 360 degree panoramic pictures of Mars and assess minerals on the planet.
They will also assess what kind of atmosphere once existed on Mars.
They will try to analyse how much or how little of water is there on Mars.
The most important experiment is to check for the presence of methane that can indicate just what kind of life existed on Mars, if at all.
Mars Orbiter Mission costs Rs 450 crore and will go up by the PSLV rocket on November 5.
The orbiter will be tracked initially from the tracking station in Byalalu near Bangalore, besides two ships deployed in the South Pacific.
It will later send data to the Byalalu station in Bangalore.
ISRO is also coordinating with NASA in tracking the spacecraft through its journey and it's experiments.
One of the main objectives of the mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
Design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion/ capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.
Deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.
Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.
Exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
Mars Orbiter Mission carries five payloads:
For atmpospheric studies:
Layman Alpha Photometer (LAP): It is an absorption cell photometer. It measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emission in the Martian upper atmosphere (typically Exosphere and exobase). Measurement of D/H (Deuterium to Hydrogen abundance ratio) allows us to understand especially the loss process of water from the planet.
Methan Sensors for Mars (MSM): It is designed to measure methane (CH4) in the Martian atmosphere with PPB accuracy and map its source. Data is acquired only over illuminated scene as the sensor measures the reflected solar radiation. Methane concentration in the Martian atmosphere undergoes spatial and temporal variations.
For particle environment studies:
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA): It is a quadruple mass spectrometer capable of analysing the neutral composition in the range of 1 to 300 amu with unit mass resolution. The heritage of this payload is from Chandra's Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHACE) payload.
For surface imaging studies:
Mars Colour Camera (MCC): This tri-colour camera gives images and information about the surface mission and composition of Martian surface. They are useful to monitor the dynamic event and weather of Mars. MCC will also be used for probing the two satellites of Mars - Phobos and Deimos. It also provides the context information for other science payloads.
Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS): This will measure the thermal emission and can be be operated during both day and night. Temperature and emissivity are the two basic physical parameters estimated from thermal emission measurement. Many minerals and soil types have characteristic spectra in TIR region. TIC can map surface composition and mineralogy of Mars.