In a few hours, India will launch its Mangalyaan space craft to Mars from Sriharikota. If the mission is successful, in 11 months India will join only 3 other countries/space agencies that have sent a probe on the Red Planet after the US, Russia and the European Space Agency.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has indicated that the mission objectives are the studying of the Martian surface and atmosphere by the orbiting probe’s instruments. The probe will also look for clues to unlock the history of Mars’ atmosphere thought to be once far more substantial but lost into the void of space.
This certainly will be a historic moment for India, but the launch is significant in terms of recognizing our planet’s increasing efforts to reach our solar system neighbour. Specifically, the launch is being called an escalation of a growing space race between India, China, Japan and South Korea.