Bangalore: India’s Mars Orbiter Mission is slated to be launched on 28 October after a national committee of experts gave the go ahead for the Rs450 crore ambitious venture after threadbare deliberations.

The committee held deliberations over two days on Thursday and Friday last and reviewed the status after senior Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists gave an in-depth presentation on the mission. Primary objectives of the mission are to demonstrate India’s technological capability to send a satellite to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study Martian environment. “The committee has given the go ahead", an ISRO official told PTI on Sunday.

Former ISRO chairman U.R. Rao, noted space expert Roddam Narasimha and Professors of Indian Institute of Science Bangalore were among those part of the eminent panel.

The 21 October-19 November launch window has now been pushed forward by a week, and it now starts on 28 October though final date of the window remains the same (19 November).

“We would like to utilise the first available opportunity", the official said, adding, the launch can be expected on the afternoon of 28 October, weather permitting. The Rs150 crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft is currently undergoing vibration and acoustic tests at ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment in Bangalore, and is slated for shipment from on 30 September to the Sriharikota spaceport after a pre-shipment committee review on 26 September. Launch campaign has already commenced in Sriharikota spaceport from where the 1,350-kg MOM spacecraft is slated to be launched by the Rs110 crore Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25).

The first stage of the PSLV-C25 with strap-ons has already been assembled, with the rocket ready for satellite integration by 10 October.

The satellite will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy. After leaving the earth’s orbit, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for about 10 months using its own propulsion system and will reach Martian transfer trajectory in September 2014.

The spacecraft subsequently is planned to enter into a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars.

The main theme of MOM appears to be to seek to reveal whether there is methane, considered a “precursor chemical" for life, on the red planet.

Methane sensor, one of the five payloads (scientific instruments) on board the spacecraft, would look to detect the presence of methane. PTI

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