India on Tuesday embarked on its maiden Mars odyssey with its polar rocket carrying Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) successfully lifting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here in its first-ever inter-planetary expedition in a bid to join a select band of nations.
The textbook lift-off of ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV C25 at 2.38 PM from the spaceport here, about 100 km from Chennai, was witnessed among others by Minister of State in PMO, V. Narayanasamy, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell, Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K. Radhakrishnan and a host of other officials.
The XL version of PSLV C 25 had carried Chandrayaan 1, the country’s maiden moon mission, in 2008.
After going around Earth for 20-25 days in an elliptical orbit (perigee of 250 km and apogee of 23,500 km), the Rs. 450 crore orbiter would begin a nine-month long voyage to Mars around 12.42 am on December 1.
It is expected to reach the red planet’s orbit by September 24, 2014 and go around in an elliptical orbit (periapsis of 366 km and apo-apsis of 80,000 km).
The Mars mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is aimed at establishing the country’s capability to reach the red planet and focus on looking for the presence of methane, an indicator of life in Mars.
The Mars Orbiter has five scientific instruments — Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).
European Space Agency (ESA) of the European consortium, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and Roscosmos of Russia are the three agencies which have successfully sent their missions to the Red Planet.