President Pranab Mukherjee India will launch its first mission to Mars this year as the emerging Asian nation plans to join the global space race.
“Several space missions are planned for 2013, including India’s first mission to Mars and the launch of our first navigational satellite,” Mukherjee told parliament. India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to the Red Planet after the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.
The spacecraft with a 1350 kg lift-off mass, will have a single solar array with three panels of 1400 x 1800 mm capable of generating 750 watts of power in the Martian orbit. It will also be equipped with a 36 AH Lithium-ion battery for power storage. For attitude and orbit control, the spacecraft will be equipped with four reaction wheels, eight thrusters of 22 Newton each and a 440 Newton liquid rocket engine.
The orbiter will have scientific objectives for studying the climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet. This will help India build data for a future manned Mars Mission. Once in the orbit, the satellite will take pictures of the red planet with a color camera and infra-red spectrometer, the Lyman-alpha photometer will measure atomic hydrogen in the atmosphere.
India will send a satellite in October to orbit the red planet,taking off from the southeastern coast and will cost about $83 million.
The spacecraft will be made in India and will take 9 months to reach Mars.
If the mission is successful, India will be the first Asian country to do so as probes sent by China and Japan had to be abandoned.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said, “Mars is international property, all the planets belong to the international community. It is essential to establish that we have done our job and our job has important scientific goals and we should do that only then we can say then that Mars belongs to us.”
“The mission is ready to roll,” Deviprasad Karnik, a scientist from the India Space Research Organization said.
In 2015, India plans to land a wheeled rover on the Moon. The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will pick up soil or rock samples for on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.