India is about to become a space exploration contender. Within two days of the Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) of NASA's MAVEN, the Indian spacecraft Mangalyaan intends to join the fun.
The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Mars Orbital Mission, is India's first attempt to send a spacecraft to Mars. The intent is to demonstrate the ISRO's ability to plan, execute, manage, and handle contingencies associated with a deep space mission. The spacecraft Mangalyaan (Hindi for Mars-carft) will prove the ISRO's ability to develop and utilize deep space communications, navigation, and a mission-capable spacecraft.
Beyond proof of technology, Mangalyaan will have work to do that compliments that of MAVEN's. Outfitted with a high resolution color camera, thermal infrared spectrometers, a methane sensor, and atmospheric analysis instruments, Mangalyaan will collect and transmit data that will help scientists understand the composition of the Martian atmosphere and determine how and why Mars is losing surface water.
Space enthusiasts are looking forward to welcoming India and the ISRO to the space exploration club and wish them great success.
Mars Orbital Mission (MOM) updates and information are available on the ISRO's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/isromom.
More information about the mission and the Mangalyaan spacecraft is available on the ISRO's Mars Website: http://www.isro.org/mars/home.aspx.
Correction to last week's post: MAVEN obviously isn't "coming in for a landing," as the spacecraft should not ever touch down. The phrase should have been, "coming in for an orbiting" or some such. ~ed.