Not for pride, but for business says isro chairman
press trust of india
Bangalore, 21 July
As India prepares to launch its Rs 450 crore mission to Mars this year, a top space official said the country’s first martian odyssey, that has attracted some criticism, is not just for pride but for undertaking “meaningful research”.
Mr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), also debunked perception in some quarters that the Mars Orbiter mission around the red planet, that’s just three months away, is primarily a “feel-good” package to just pat ourselves on the back.
“It’s not for pride because the exploration of Mars has its own scientific value and possibly a future habitat which people are talking about…may be 20 years…30 years from now…it’s possible,” he told PTI here in an interview, referring to the colonisation angle.
“What’s the most interesting question on Mars?- life. So, we talk about Methane…which is of biological origin or geological origin. So, we have a methane sensor plus a thermal infrared spectrometer. These two together should be able to give some information,” said Mr Radhakrishnan, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space.
Critics of the Indian Mars mission wondered whether the country can afford huge costs for this space voyage.
After leaving earth orbit in November, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for 10 months using its own propulsion system and will reach Mars (Martian transfer trajectory) in September 2014.
The 1350 kg spacecraft subsequently is planned to enter into a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars.
“We want to look at environment of Mars for various elements like Deuterium-Hydrogen ratio. We also want to look at other constituents – neutral constituents,” Mr Radhakrishnan said.
“There are several things which Mars will tells us, this is what the scientific community thinks about the life on Mars”, he said, adding, scientists started taking interest on Mars from the 18th century itself. “Mars is a subject of interest”.
"If we succeed (in the mission), it will position India into
the group of countries who will have the ability to look at Mars.
In the future, certainly, there will be synergy between various
countries in such exploration. That’s taking place. That time
India will be a country to be counted”, he said.
ISRO is going to start the assembly of PSLV-C25, the  rocket on board of which the Mars orbiter would be launched  any day between 21 October 7 November.  The PSLV-XL (PSLV-C25) will inject the spacecraft from  the spaceport of Sriharikota in the 250 X 23000 km orbit.
In the case of INSAT class of satellites and Chandrayaan-1, they reached orbital slots in one and two weeks, respectively. “This is the first time we have to operate the propulsion system after 300 days. There will be some performance deterioration”, he said but added that ISRO has undertaken the test and knows how it would operate. So, the robustness and reliability of propulsion system has been raised “one order higher”.