Sriharikota : India’s first Mars orbiter Tuesday successfully began an ardous 400 million km long journey to Mars, making it the first Asian country and the fourth in the world to undertake a mission to the red planet in the hope of finding methane and minerals.
India’s Rs.450 crore (about $72.9 million) Mars orbiter was successfully placed in orbit by an Indian rocket in what scientists said was a flawless launch.
Exactly at 2.38 p.m., the Indian-made rocket – Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 (PSLV-C25) standing around 44 meters tall and weighing around 320 tones – rose from its launching pad slowly, and then gathered speed as it zoomed into the skies on a plume of fiery orange flames.
The expendable rocket, costing around Rs.110 crore had a single but important luggage, the 1,340-kg Mars orbiter costing around Rs.150 crore. Around Rs.90 crore has been spent on augmenting the ground support/tracking systems.
The orbiter now heads to the red planet that gets its red hue from the iron in its soil. Named after the ancient Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the planet closest to Earth. NASA says Mars is about one-sixth the size of Earth.
Its scientific mission will be to explore the Mars surface features, morphology, or the study of organisms, mineralogy, the study of minerals, and Martian atmosphere by all Indian-made scientific instruments.