India Sets Its Sights On Mars
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
India is joining the ambitions of other space agencies by putting forth a goal to send a satellite to Mars, according to a report by the Hindustan Times.
Plans presented to the government by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) suggested a spacecraft be launched during October or November 2013, with the goal of entering Mars orbit in September 2014.
The proposed spacecraft will collect satellite images and send them back to Earth to help Indian scientists study whether there is a possibility for life there.
The 3,000-pound spacecraft will be launched by PSLV-XL from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
India will just be catching up to other countries like the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and China, which have sent a total of 44 space missions to Mars.
Although many attempts have been made, only 19 of the 44 space missions sent out by other countries have succeeded, with the U.S. finding the biggest success rate.
If India proves to be successful, it will be only the third country to conduct a successful mission to the Red Planet.
NASA is facing its own hurdles with its latest endeavor to reach the Red Planet. This Sunday night, the space agency will be trying to make the most complicated landing on Mars ever attempted.
The Curiosity rover is nearing its target after a 352 million mile journey across the Solar System, and the toughest part of the trip hasn’t even begun.
Sunday’s landing has been called “seven minutes of terror” because the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will only have seven minutes to go from 13,000 mph, and safely land Curiosity on the Martian surface at 1.7 mph.
NASA has admitted the difficulties it will be facing with the landing, and the new complex landing system has even sparked the creation of an Xbox game.
During the descent, MSL will enter Mars atmosphere at 13,000 mph, and will afterwards deploy a parachute to slow itself down to about 180 mph. At this speed, Curiosity will be released from the backshell, and NASA will be utilizing its “Sky Crane” technology to get it to the ground.
The Sky Crane is essentially a backpack with thrusters that NASA engineers can drive Curiosity safely, and slowly towards the ground with.
RedOrbit will be providing live blogging of the event from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which will be taking place on Sunday at 10:31 pacific time.