Star trek begins with Mars: Isro chief


Bengaluru: When India launches its orbiter to Mars in October-November 2013 it will be the precursor to a partnership with space-faring majors which are planning exploratory expeditions to the red planet in the second half of this decade.
Maintaining that it was not a “glamourous” venture of Indian space scientists, Dr K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), told Deccan Chronicle that the mission to Mars would help the space agency pitch for joint exploration of the planet either in 2016, 2018 or 2020.
“It is the starting point for an opportunity to collaborate with others. Once the mission goes through, I am sure that there will be serious discussions on what we can do along with others as we will be in the same club. We must know everything about Mars as it has clues on evolution of the universe and the solar system, and could support human colonies in the future. There are opportunities for discovering new scientific details with the help of five instruments onboard our orbiter. And, the technological spin-offs will help us design more sophisticated satellites which can handle snags with fewer commands (from ground stations),” he added.
He said the first challenge would be to steer the orbiter over 55 million km and 300 days, up from four lakh km traversed by Chandrayaan-I in 2008, followed by management of the interplanetary mission and reception of data at the Deep Space Network (DSN) station on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
While lessons from failure of the Moon mission have been incorporated at the design stage itself, the orbiter would undergo extensive tests commencing next month in order to endure extreme climatic conditions in outer space. It would be moved to Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range, in September for launch by workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), by the end of October or early November.
Dr Radhakrishnan said unlike Chandrayaan-I, the space agency did not invite participation by other countries, due to lack of time. The feasibility study commenced in August 2010, followed by a formal approval by the Union Government in August 2012. “We knew what we are going to look for, so our labs designed the instruments for the orbiter,” he added.

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