Scientists prepare mission to Mars
India plans to send a satellite via an unmanned spacecraft to orbit Mars next year, joining a small group of nations already exploring the red planet, a government scientist said yesterday.
A rocket will blast off from the southeastern coast of India, dropping the satellite into deep space, which will then travel on to Mars to achieve orbit, the senior scientist said, asking not to be named because the project is awaiting final approval.
A spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organisation based in the southern city of Bangalore would not confirm the mission, but commented generally on the ambitions of India’s space programme.
“After the Moon, worldwide attention is now focused on finding out if there are habitable spots on Mars,” organisation spokesman Deviprasad Karnik said.
Scientists expect the satellite to orbit at less than 100 km (62 miles) above Mars.
India’s federal cabinet is expected soon to clear the mission, according to media reports this week that said the programme will cost about $80 million. – (Reuters)