India will take its next major step forward in the space programme, after the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 in 2008, when scientists of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) launch their maiden mission to Mars on Tuesday, at 2:38pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
PSLV-C25, the 25th mission of PSLV and fifth in the XL configuration, will carry the 1,337 kg Mars Orbiter Satellite into a 250 km X 23,500 km elliptical orbit. The cost of the mission is Rs. 450 crore.
The 56 hours 30 minute countdown for the launch started on Sunday at 6.08am.
The coasting phase between the third stage (PS3) burn-out and the fourth-stage (PS4) ignition is longer for this mission. The total flight duration before the Orbiter is injected is nearly 40 minutes. This is longer than the average time of 20 minutes for earlier spacecrafts.
“There are several technological and scientific challenges in this mission. This is India’s first interplanetary mission. We had to calibrate our hardware to withstand a territory not experienced before,” Isro chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said.
The spacecraft will move from the Earth’s sphere of influence and go to the heliocentric (sun-centric) orbit on December 1, 2013 at 12:42pm. It will remain in the trans-Martian orbit for nearly 300 days before finally entering the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014. It will then have to be re-oriented and slowed down to enter the Martian orbit or else it will vanish.
The Orbiter has five indigenously-designed payloads to carry different scientific experiments once it reaches the Martian atmosphere. The Methane Sensor is specifically designed to measure methane and map its sources on Mars.
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One of the main objectives of this mission is to develop technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
The launch window for the MOM mission is from October 28, 2013 to November 19, 2013.
Here's ISRO's facebook post on the eve of the launch:
Here's what ISRO had tweeted on Sunday about the mission:
Mars orbiter mission is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit.— ISRO (@ISRO_India) November 3, 2013