News / Science & Technology

India Prepares for Mars Mission

A paramilitary soldier walks past the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) at the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Oct. 30, 2013.
A paramilitary soldier walks past the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) at the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Oct. 30, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
India will launch a spacecraft to Mars on November 5 - an ambitious feat attempted only by a handful of countries. The Red Planet mission marks a major expansion of India’s space program as it tries to emerge on the frontlines of space exploration.    
 
It’s "Destination Mars" on Tuesday. As the day approaches there is a mounting sense of anticipation among scientists at the space station in Sriharikota on India’s east coast from where the unmanned spacecraft will be launched.
 
The Mars Orbiter mission will be the country’s first interplanetary mission. Spokesman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Deviprasad Karnik, said the main challenge is for the spacecraft to successfully enter the Mars orbit by September of next year.
 
“The primary objective is to demonstrate the technical capability of India to reach Mars and then conduct a meaningful science experiment. The whole country is looking forward to it,” Karnik said.
 
That is not surprising. Despite much advancement in space technology, a mission to Mars is still a challenge. Only about one third have been successful.
 
The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Photo Credit: Viking Project.The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Photo Credit: Viking Project.
x
The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Photo Credit: Viking Project.
The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Photo Credit: Viking Project.
The 1350 kilogram craft equipped with five instruments will study the surface, topography and atmosphere. In particular, it will look for evidence of methane, whose presence can indicate if earth’s closest neighbor has an environment to support life.  
 
If successful, India will be the fourth to survey the planet from up close besides Russia, the United States and the European Space Agency.
 
India’s Mars Orbiter will be launched two weeks before the United States also sends another spacecraft to Mars.
 
India’s program has been put together in a relatively short period - about four years.

Several analysts feel rivalry with the other Asian giant, China, whose space program is ahead of India’s, gave momentum to the mission.
 
Dean Cheng at the Heritage Foundation in Washington said India is taking advantage of an opportunity provided by the failure of China’s first mission to Mars in 2011. 
 
“The failure of the Chinese expedition to Mars I think has given India an opportunity to publicly display its capability and in a sense to play one upmanship with China," Cheng said. "So I think that this particular mission is being moved ahead at this moment in time to make sure that India can show the world that India’s space capabilities are not necessarily that far behind China’s.”
 
Senior Indian scientists however have said they are not in a race with anybody - only with themselves to excel.
 
India’s Mars mission does mark a major expansion of India’s space program as it sets its eyes firmly on space exploration. The first such bid came in 2008 when it sent an unmanned craft to the moon.
 
There has been some criticism of India’s Mars program as an unnecessary extravagance by a country which still needs to do much to improve the life of millions of poor people. For long, India has justified its space program as one which does exactly that by focusing on areas such as weather forecasting and using satellites to beam education programs to remote areas. 
 
A former senior scientist at ISRO, K.R. Sridhara Murthy, hopes the mission will become a stepping stone for more progress. But he added that entering the realm of deep space exploration will hopefully not distract India from these important objectives. 
 
“Certainly there are tremendous needs on the ground which ISRO has to concentrate and find mechanisms of delivery to improve conditions in India and there is lot of potential here…interplanetary missions are good but it cannot be predominant part of India’s program as far as India’s needs are concerned," Murthy said.
 
India points to the relatively modest budget for the mission: $70 million. Officials say that is a fraction of what the U.S. mission will be costing.
 
Dean Cheng said India is willing to commit significant resources to its space program. He said besides technological and scientific objectives, the Mars mission is linked to national prestige and a desire by India to be counted among the world’s up and coming countries.
 
“Assuming that all goes well, India will be joining a very small, very select group," Cheng noted. "This is in a sense India’s coming-out-party if you will, certainly in terms of space exploration.”
 
That is what India will be hoping - that its coming-out-party in space goes off without a hitch.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: muzaffer from: Hyderabad
November 02, 2013 4:11 PM
Should extraterrestrials discover that Indians have reached Mars they will begin a full scale assault on the Earth to save the rest of the universe from being turned into a corrupt Indian slum.
In Response

by: Abdul from: Pakistan
November 03, 2013 12:48 AM
I am a Pakistani and a fool. Please enlighten me about India.

India seems to have made it to the top, both in their economy and science and technology especially with this Mars Mission and earlier Moon mission.

Tell me bhai, why Pakistan is not able to replicate India's success. Is it because we eat too much kabab?

by: Mj from: NY
November 02, 2013 12:36 AM
Best luck India.......

by: Ronak from: Raleigh
November 01, 2013 12:10 PM
Sri Lankans are just jealous lol

by: Dillip
November 01, 2013 6:08 AM
By one estimate, Indians spend over $800m a year on fireworks. And only $70 million for Mars mission !!!

by: Punekar
October 31, 2013 1:34 PM
The most common argument is around the false dichotomy of "Poverty vs. Space". The assumption that space is a luxury meant for "first world" nations is patently rubbish.

Space exploration requires technology innovations in materials sciences, remote sensing, propulsion etc., all of which have huge civilian spin-offs. Today's Indian farmer gets free text feeds about weather changes, irrigation efficiency etc. from ISRO's existing space platforms and ground systems. This feeds more people on the ground.

And ISRO is doing all this for $900 million USD - paltry amount compared to what other nations are spending.

Also national pride is needed to move ahead and these achievements will generate that. Millions of Indian youngsters will be inspired to take on science and technology careers, which will create it's own virtuous circle. We all have to think beyond primitive binaries.

by: Muthuthanthri F from: Sri lanka
October 31, 2013 10:01 AM
Before doing all these , and sending people to moon or sun MAKE TOILETS TO THE CITIZENS
Teach Indians to behave.
In Response

by: Arnav Mohatta from: Mumbai,India
November 03, 2013 1:44 AM
First of all,Indian state of Tamil Nadu is larger than Sr Lanka.Then India is already acknowledged by the world as the 21st century world leader along with China and if Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister.All of India's problems will get over.Pakistan and Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka will to put to their right place.
In Response

by: Praveen from: Bangalore
November 02, 2013 11:36 PM
There is a lot that Sri Lanka can achieve for its people by doing space research itself. Why not think positively on those lines?

The same applies to all naysayer neighbors of India stuck in a hyper-religious frenzy rather than developing a scientific mindset.
In Response

by: Talking Point from: India
November 01, 2013 3:42 AM
Even without enough toilets , if we are able to send a successful (God willing Inspite of the neighbors' envy) orbiter to Mars, just imagine what we could potentially do when all Indians have access to toilets . As a corollary , inspite of your countrymen have full access to closed toilets , what has your country achieved ?
In Response

by: Jitendra from: Melbourne
October 31, 2013 11:02 PM
Please read the comment by Mr Punekar. Why everything has to boil down to a toilet ? Please clear your mind of that filth. The world is more then that. You need to do several things in parallel. There is no linear sequence to do these things.
In Response

by: Raj from: India
October 31, 2013 11:35 AM
Thanks. That's an amazing suggestion.
We will lay a pipe to Lanka and transport all 'waste' from India.
Look at you before you preach.
In Response

by: LankanTamil from: Pondi
October 31, 2013 10:50 AM
@Muthuthanthri WTF are you taking Indians are not sending people, nor taking moon or sun you Stupid 3rd grade punk! they only sending a satellite to orbit Mars!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More