Mars Orbiter Mission launch on Oct 28

Written By Unknown on Senin, 23 September 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Isro officials said on Sunday that the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will be launched on October 28 from Sriharikota between 3.30pm and 4pm.

A national committee of scientists chaired by former Isro chief U R Rao gave the go-ahead to the Rs 450-crore mission on Friday. "Right now we are continuously monitoring it," an official said.

The Mars orbiter has undergone extensive pre-launch tests at Isro's Satellite Centre in Bangalore and will be moved to Sriharikota on September 30 for integration with the advanced version of the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), known as PSLV-XL.

The pre-shipment review will be held on September 26. With a large contingent of the international media expected to cover the launch, hotels in Chennai are flooded with inquiries about availability of rooms and rates. Sriharikota is about a two-and-a-half hours drive from Chennai.

Referring to the recent discovery by Nasa's Curiosity rover that there was no methane on Mars, Rao who played a major role in the selection of the five scientific instruments which will fly on MOM said that it did not mean much and was of little significance.

He emphasized that Nasa's announcement has in no way made the Indian mission to Mars irrelevant. His statement assumes significance in the context of MOM flying an instrument called the methane sensor, which is designed to measure methane in the Martian atmosphere and map its sources. It is one of the five instruments on board MOM, and was fabricated at Isro's Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre.

Rao said, "It had always been stated that the moon was bone dry and there was no water. But, our lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 attained a major breakthrough and found water on the moon. Similarly, our Mars mission will achieve something similar."

Rao's view was shared by Syed Maqbool Ahmed, the scientist behind Chandra Altitudinal Composition Explorer (Chace) on board Chandrayaan-1's Moon Impact Probe which discovered water on the moon. Ahmed who had a two-year stint at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, "Depending upon the prevailing conditions, the instruments of MOM which are a heritage class of Chandrayaan-1 may certainly give a chance to measure elusive methane."

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