India's Mars Orbiter Mission is slated to be launched on October 28 after a national committee of experts gave the go ahead for the Rs 450 crore ambitious venture after threadbare deliberations.
The committee held deliberations over two days on Thursday and Friday last and reviewed the status after senior Indian Space Research Organisation scientists gave an in-depth presentation on the mission.
Primary objectives of the mission are to demonstrate India's technological capability to send a satellite to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study Martian environment.
"The committee has given the go ahead", an ISRO official said.
Former ISRO Chairman U R Rao, noted space expert Roddam Narasimha and Professors of Indian Institute of Science Bangalore were among those part of the eminent panel.
The October 21-November 19 launch window has now been pushed forward by a week, and it now starts on October 28 though final date of the window remains the same (Nov19). "We would like to utilise the first available opportunity", the official said, adding, the launch can be expected on the afternoon of October 28, weather permitting.
The Rs 150-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft is currently undergoing vibration and acoustic tests at ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment here, and is slated for shipment from here on September 30 to the Sriharikota spaceport after a pre-shipment committee review on September 26.
Launch campaign has already commenced in Sriharikota spaceport from where the 1,350-kg MOM spacecraft is slated to be launched by the Rs 110 crore Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25).
The first stage of the PSLV-C25 with strap-ons has already been assembled, with the rocket ready for satellite integration by October 10.
Australia keen to access ISRO's space data
Australia is keen to collaborate with ISRO for scientific space data to guard its 59,736-km-long coastline against tsunami and storms. The country has shown interest in getting data from Indian satellite Oceansat-2, which can measure ocean colour, a specialised property.
Measuring ocean colour helps to know tsunami risks and other storms in advance and also in evaluating shallow water depth, said Andy Barnicoat, Chief of Minerals and Natural Hazard Division at Geoscience, Australia.
"Australia has a 59,736-km-long coastline and with data from Oceansat-2, we can know in advance about tsunami and other storms. We would like to have access to high resolution data from Indian Space Research Organisation," Barnicoat said. Oceansat-2 is an Indian satellite designed to provide service continuity for operational users of the Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) instrument on Oceansat-1.
Oceansat-2 is used to study surface winds and ocean surface strata, observe chlorophyll concentrations, monitor phytoplankton blooms and study atmospheric aerosols and suspended sediments in water.
Australia is also keen to have access to positioning satellite system of India. The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is an autonomous navigation system being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation. IRNSS is a network of 21 ranging stations located across the country and will provide data for the orbit determination of the satellites and monitoring of the navigation signal.
The Indian positioning satellite flies past Australia in its orbit and hence has some foot prints about Australia and we are keen to access it, Barnicoat said.
Also, Australia wants precise data from new microwave satellite RISAT, which can monitor precise ground level changes. It also boasts of foot print satellite laser facility which will help in precise calculation of orbits. It also has the capability of taking images of Earth during day and night, as well as in cloudy conditions.
Barnicoat said he will be meeting ISRO officials in Bangalore soon.