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India aims to crack 'methane mystery' with Mars mission

Planet Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL.

BANGALORE (PTI): India's proposed mission to Mars in November next year will attempt to crack the "methane mystery", a veteran space scientist has hinted.

Speaking to PTI here, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Prof U R Rao noted that when the country undertook the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, "we didn't know we are going to detect water (on the Moon)".

"First time it has happened (detecting water on the moon) in spite of the fact that we were a late entrant (on exploring Moon)," said Rao, a globally respected figure in the field of space.

Rao, Chairman of the selection committee which finalised experiments to be conducted vis-a-vis the Mars orbiter mission, said: "We have selected very good experiments. One of the experiments is essentially to look for methane...where the methane comes from (what could be producing methane gas detected in the Martian atmosphere)."

He said there are many open questions vis-a-vis the Red planet.

Right now, there is life only on Earth. "Venus is so near to Earth, yet it is so inhospitable. Mars is so near to the Earth, yet it has very, very thin atmosphere, very little of oxygen. Mars has some magnetic materials all over but it does not have a magnetic field, why? There is very little known of Mars," Rao observed.

Rao said Mars has a great amount of relevance because in about "500 years or lesser, we might be able to use Mars as a resource for Earth."

"We are running out of resources in the world," he said.

"There are many people who believe Mars can be made hospitable and of course it requires a lot of efforts."

ISRO aims to do quite a good number of scientific experiments with its Mars mission.

"Some experiments have been selected and some are on the waiting list. The weight capability is not high. Total weight of the experiments selected can't be more than 15 kg," he added.

According to ISRO officials, the cost of the proposed unmanned Mars orbiter mission is Rs 450 crore. The orbiter is planned to be launched using India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.


India  ISRO  Mars  Methane  

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