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ISRO gears up for ambitious Mars mission

Preparations are afoot for the upcoming ‘big-bang’ Mars Orbiter Mission in October-November, an ambitious venture that would shed light on the possible existence of life on the planet besides boosting space agency ISRO's brand equity.

The satellite, which would be launched on board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL), will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg, according to ISRO officials. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.

Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP) is aimed at studying the escape processes of Mars upper atmosphere through Deuterium/Hydrogen, Methane Sensor for MARS (MSM) would look to detect presence of Methane while Martian Exospheric Composition Explorer (MENCA) would study the neutral composition of the Martian upper atmosphere.

MARS Colour Camera (MCC) would undertake optical imaging and TIR imaging spectrometer (TIS) is targetted to map surface composition and mineralogy. ‘Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft integration is under progress’, an ISRO official said on Sunday. ‘The spacecraft has to undergo qualification tests for proving space worthiness once the integration is completed’.

The mission would help ISRO understand the technological challenges of such an exploration, the possible existence of life and future colonisation of Mars, which is the nearest planet which has most resemblance to earth. This would be India's first mission to a distant planet.

ISRO will launch the mission in October-November. ‘If launched within the launch window (21 Oct-19 Nov), the spacecraft will travel for least distance to reach Mars’, the official said. This is the immediate next available opportunity for such a mission as Earth and Mars would be coming closer then.
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