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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs