India successfully launches historic mission to Mars
India's premier space agency, ISRO, on 5 November 2013 successfully launched its historic mission to Mars from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 100 from Chennai. It was India’s first mission to the red planet. The mission follows India’s successful 2008-2009 Chandrayaan-1 moon probe, which discovered water molecules in the lunar soil. The total cost of the Mars mission is 73 million US dollars.
The main features of the Mars mission are as following:
• The main objective of the mission is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
• The main objective of the mission is to explore Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and search for methane in the Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
• The satellite carries instruments such as Lyman Alpha Photometer, a methane sensor, a composition analyser, a camera and an imaging spectrometer for studying the atmosphere, particle environment and surface imaging.
• The satellite is scheduled to reach the Mars orbit in September 2014 and is designed to circle the Red Planet in an elliptical orbit of 366 km X 80000 km.
The 15 kg scientific payload consists of five instruments:
Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP) – is a photometer that measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emissions in the upper atmosphere.
Methane Sensor For Mars (MSM) – will look to detect the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars.
Particle environment studies
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA)- is a quadrupole mass analyzer capable of analyzing the neutral composition of particles in the exosphere.
Surface imaging studies
Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) - will measure the temperature and emissivity of the Martian surface, this can allow mapping surface composition and mineralogy of Mars.
Mars Colour Camera (MCC) - will provide images in the visual spectrum, providing context information for the other science instruments.