Indian award winning journalist keeping a hawks eye on developments in science, technology, environment and health in South Asia
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Halfway mark for the Parliament still elusive but India's Mission Mars does that with aplomb.
Landmark day for India's mission to Mars travels more than 300 million km
Amidst the excitement whether some political party will cross the halfway mark to form the government or not, yet in this busy election season India's maiden mission to mars 'Mangalyaan' crossed the halfway mark of its arduous journey on April 9, 2014 morning at 9.50 am.
Launched on November 5, 2013 -- well before elections were announced -- it has travelled some 337.5 million kilometers till now and is expected to rendezvous with the Red Planet on September 24, 2014 by when the new Prime Minister will greet it as it has become the farthest any Indian object has ever travelled.
Made at a mere cost of Rs 450 crores the cheapest inter planetary mission ever to be conceived by humans. The main objective is to look for signatures of life on mars and to fulfill India's deep desire to beat China in reaching Mars. The latter seems on track as really nothing can rely stop it from reaching near Mars thanks to the nature of planetary forces and the precise orbit injection by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Some 500 scientists toiled day and night to ready this craft in a record 15 months.
The journey to Mars is tough to say the least till date 51 missions have been launched and 27 have failed. If India reaches Mars it would be the first 'country' to achieve it on its maiden flight. Till date only USA, Russia and the European Space Agency have successfully reached the Red Planet.
The journey that began from the Red Fort with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making that clarion call on August 15, 2012 to now when the spacecraft is halfway to its journey to the Red Planet it has been stupendous marathon run like a 100 meter dash. Go ISRO go boldly where no Indian has ever gone before!
Pallava Bagla is Science Editor, NDTV (New Delhi Television) and Chief Correspondent (South Asia) for the American weekly Science.
In 2005 he was honored with the National Award for best science journalism in the print media by the Indian government and in 2003 he was awarded for ‘outstanding journalism’ by the United Nations. He is also a skilled photographer and images taken by him have appeared in National Geographic, Time, & Newsweek. A contributing photographer for Corbis images. He has covered the Indian space and nuclear program for the past two decades.