India is aiming to join the world’s deep-space pioneers with a journey to Mars that it hopes will showcase its technological ability to explore the solar system while seeking solutions for everyday problems on Earth.
With a Tuesday launch planned for Mangalyaan, which means “Mars craft” in Hindi, India will attempt to become the fourth country or group of countries to reach the Red Planet, after the Soviet Union, United States and Europe.
This is India’s first Mars mission, and no country has been fully successful on its first try. More than half the world’s attempts to reach Mars — 23 out of 40 missions — have failed, including missions by Japan and China.
Mangalyaan is scheduled to begin a 300-day, 485-million-mile journey to orbit Mars and survey its geology and atmosphere. Instruments aboard Mangalyaan, which won’t carry astronauts, will gather data to help determine how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the water that is believed to have once existed on Mars in large quantities.