Zee Media Bureau
Bangalore: Amid fears of a comet (C/2013 AI) heading into the Red Planet in 2014, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that its Rs 450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission, scheduled to be launched in November this year will take place as per the plan.
Comet C/2013 A1, discovered on January 3 by Rob McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, is crashing into the Mars in October. Earlier, NASA has said that the chance of comet striking Mars is1 in 8,000, but now revised calculations put the possibility of an impact at just 1 in 120,000.
“The comet could bring some constituents, but we don`t expect any effect on the spacecraft. It will pass 50,000 km away from Mars’ surface. We will get more information on the comet in future and scientists are looking at all possibilities,” ISRO Chief K Radhakrishnan said.
The Mars Orbiter will carry scientific payload consists of five instruments (weighing about 15 kg):
Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)
Mars Color Camera (MCC)
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA)
TIR Spectrometer (TIS)
Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP)
According to ISRO, the tentative scientific objective for the Mars mission will be to focus on life, climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet.
ISRO will launch the orbiter using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The Mars Orbiter, which is expected to exit the Earth’s orbit on 27 November, will take over 300 days to travel towards the Red Planet. The orbit insertion is planned for September 2014 and would allow the spacecraft to enter a highly elliptical orbit of 500 km x 80,000 km around Mars.
India will become the sixth country to launch a mission to Mars after the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.