Mars is getting another guest. This time from India. India’s Mars Orbiter probe will attempt Mars orbital insertion tonight at 9:47 p.m. ET. Watch India’s most ambitious space effort yet unfold in realtime via webcast.isro.gov.in and webcast.gov.in/live. The broadcast begins at 9:15 p.m. ET.
Should tonight’s insertion burn be successful, India will join the U.S., Europe and Russia as the only space programs to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars. India also has an opportunity at history. If their orbiter successfully enters Mars orbit, India would be the first country to successfully enter Mars orbit on the first try.
Tonight’s orbital insertion is the culmination of a more than 420 million mile journey that started last November. Once successfully in orbit, India’s Mars Orbiter probe will study Mars’ surface and atmosphere. Scientists will be looking for any new findings on Mars’ atmosphere, specifically methane.
The Indian Space Research Organization tweeted an image showing a diagram of what will take place tonight.
— ISRO (@isro) September 18, 2014
India’s Mars Orbiter probe was designed on a budget. The mission’s price tag stands at just $74 million. A far cry from the $671 million NASA shelled out for the MAVEN spacecraft, which entered Mars orbit a couple of days ago.
It’s great to see more countries diving into space exploration. India may also be able to celebrate a win over China should their mission find success. China is busy firing up their space program as they look to compete with its Asian neighbors.
I will update this post if I can find any other livestreams.
Image credit: India Space Research Organization