Friday, April 13, 2007

ISRO eyes mission to Mars

Bangalore, April 11 (IANS) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is open to launch a mission to Mars if the government gives a green signal, a top official of the space agency said here Wednesday.

“We can undertake a mission to Mars within five years of the government’s approval. If the project is given the go-ahead now, we will be in a position to launch the mission to the red planet by 2012,” ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair told reporters.

Nair, however, hastened to add that the proposal for such a mission was under study by the space agency on the basis of a brief report prepared by the Indian scientific community.

“Our scientific community has come out with an outline of a mission to Mars. If the proposal is interesting, we will pursue it,” Nair said.

Nair’s observation on ISRO’s capability to reach Mars comes in the backdrop of China’s decision to launch a joint mission to the planet with Russia in 2009

Mission to Mars

Since the earliest days of science fiction, travel to Mars has captured the imagination. However, to get to Mars and return is not an easy task. Hard as it was for man to go to the Moon, travel to Mars is many orders of magnitude more difficult. Even in 2003, when Mars will be at the closest distance of approach to the Earth, it will still remain over 50 million km away from Earth.

That distance is almost 150 times as far away as the Moon. To go to Mars in a reasonable amount of time will require much higher speeds than to go to the Moon, and that means much more fuel. Then, to return from Mars will also require great amounts of fuel. Although Mars is much smaller than Earth, and has a much smaller gravity, it will still require a very large amount of energy to escape from the Martian surface and return.

Sunday, April 08, 2007