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Mars mission over in 15 months, scientists euphoric

Mars mission over in 15 months, scientists euphoric

Sriharikota/New Delhi: India's Mars mission is a major step forward in exploring the solar system that was completed by Indian scientists in just 15 months, said the euphoric scientific community Tuesday.

India is the first Asian country and the fourth entity after Russia, the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) to leap into interplanetary space with an exploratory mission to Mars, about 400 million km from planet Earth.

Amitabha Ghosh, chairman, Science Operations Working Group - Mission Operations at the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission, said it's a significant milestone for India.

"It is important to develop capability and also try to do something unique and not something done before. The real moment for India will come when it enters into Mars gravitation," Ghosh said.

Renowned space scientist K. Kasturirangan commended the way Indian scientists were able to complete the mission within 15 months of the announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I think first of all given the 15 months' time to take the mission to first level is something unbelievable for space programme of this level... something we all should be proud of," Kasturirangan said.

"It will become an important milestone for India when it completes 300 days and enters Mars orbit," Kasturirangan said.

Mission director P. Kunhikrishnan said: "With the precise injection of the spacecraft in the desired initial orbit, the crucial part of the mission for its long journey to Mars has been achieved. It is the 25th mission of the PSLV rocket."

Professor Yashpal, founding father of ISRO, lauded India's effort to chart its own path by launching the mission and not following others.

"There are a whole lot of programmes going on in the ISRO and the best part is that you are making your own path and not following anyone else's," he said.

Professor U.R. Rao, who had conducted the feasibility study of the Mars mission, said: "It is indeed a great day for India as something that has gone out of our own cradle. I can proudly say India has become mature. I hope we get very good results."

"I was talking to some scientist friends in the US and they told me why Indians are shouting about Rs.500 crore spent on the mission, it is the biggest day for the whole of India."

"Indians can be proud after spending Rs.5,000 crore on Diwali firecrackers, which don't go beyond 10 metres and with Rs.500 crore, we are going to Mars," said Rao, former ISRO chairman.

The spacecraft will enter the Martian orbit in September 2014.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre director S. Ramakrishnan said: "It is a historic mission. The PSLV has again proved to be a reliable rocket with a text-book launch, which is the first step."

Mission's authorisation board member M. Chandradatan said: "It is an excellent mission, with the team work of all ISRO centres as it had a very complicated design. We have achieved the first important step in the long mission and getting into the Earth's orbit."

Former Space Commission member Roddam Narasimha from Sriharikota told IANS: "It is a distinct forward step and India is working towards a new horizon in exploring the solar system. We have only seen the first phase of the project and have to wait for over nine months to watch from Earth before the spacecraft reaches the Martian orbit."


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