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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid