India has succeeded in its first ever attempt to send a satellite into orbit around Mars, at a budget price of just £45 million.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, dubbed MOM, is one of the cheapest interplanetary missions in history, yet it is packed full of instrumentation designed to address some of the most burning questions in Mars research, including the possible existence of life on the Red Planet.
The 1,350 kg satellite has been equipped with instruments to measure methane in the Martian atmosphere – a recognised marker that could indicate the existence of biological organisms deep beneath the planet’s inhospitable surface.
The satellite will also analyse other atmospheric components alongside NASA’s new Maven Mars satellite and Europe’s Mars Express, potentially offering three-point measurements of the planet’s atmosphere, dramatically improving the reliability of Mars research.
India has now beaten China to become the first Asian country to successfully circle the Red Planet. Deputy operations director, BN Ramkrishna told the BBC: “It’s like hitting a golf ball from Bangalore to London and getting it into the hole in one go. It’s got to be that precise.”
Story from the BBC here