Kolkata: India's tryst with Mars will begin in October to explore the red planet's atmosphere and search for life-sustaining elements, a top space official said Friday.
"We are trying very hard and by mid-October we are expecting to launch the Mars mission," said J.N. Goswami, in-charge of the exploration mission.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress here, Goswami said the mission is yet to get an official name.
The Rs.470-crore mission will demonstrate India's capability to launch a spacecraft on a 55 million km journey from earth and look for life-sustaining elements from 500 km over the Martian surface.
"The mission has a very specific science objective as we want to study the atmosphere of Mars. This mission will explore things which have not been done previously by other countries," said Goswami, director of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
The Indian space agency plans to use a high-end rocket (PSLV-XL) to launch the 1.4-tonne Martian spacecraft from its Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km northeast of Chennai, with five instruments to study various aspects of the red planet.
The Mars mission will allow India to join the elite club of five top nations comprising the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan which have launched similar missions.
As the fourth planet from the Sun and smallest celestial object in the solar system, Mars is terrestrial with breath-taking valleys, deserts, craters and volcanoes in a thin atmosphere.
Named after the Roman god of war, the red planet has many similarities with Earth like the rotation period and seasonal cycles.