India has launched a rocket it hopes will allow it to join an elite group of space explorers to Mars.
The country's space research organization (ISRO) launched its orbiter to the Red Planet on Tuesday — only NASA, the former Soviet Union and the Europeans have previously been successful in operating probes from Mars.
Japan made an attempt with the Nozomi orbiter in 1998 but it failed to reach the planet and a Chinese probe was lost along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission in January 2012. The UK's Beagle 2 probe separated from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter in 2003 but nothing was ever heard from the lander.
It will take 10 months for India's Mars Orbiter Mission to reach the Red Planet after lifting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre near Chennai. The probe will explore the planet's surface features, minerals and atmosphere.
ISRO is hoping to discover more about the loss of water from Mars, map the sources of methane gas, as well as collecting data about the two moons Phobos and Deimos.
Written By: Dave Gilbert
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