The probe will study the thin Martian atmosphere to determine the existence and sustainability of life and focus on the climate, geology, origin and evolution of the planet with its five solar-powered instruments. The mission will cost around 4.5 billion rupees ($80.7 million).
Rather than take a direct trajectory to the red planet, the orbiter is due to orbit around the Earth for nearly a month after launch, gaining the necessary speed to break free from Earth’s gravitational pull before embarking on a nine-month voyage to Mars. The current plan includes insertion of the satellite in an orbit around Mars on Sept. 22, 2014.
The mission is being supported by NASA, which is providing communications and navigation support through its Deep Space Network facilities. This is the first time India has undertaken an interplanetary mission. If successful, the mission will mark a major step in the country’s space program, which has already launched a mission to the Moon.