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BANGALORE: India's upcoming Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) seeks to reveal whether there is methane, considered a "precursor chemical" for life, on the Red Planet, key officials behind the ambitious venture said on Wednesday.
A journey of over 385 million km — is just over a month away as the Indian Space Research Organisation prepares to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft between October 21 and November 19 from Sriharikota.
A Methane Sensor, one of the five payloads (scientific instruments) onboard the spacecraft, would look to detect the presence of the gas, MOM Project Director Arunan S said.
The spacecraft has been built in a record 12 months to orbit around Mars for at least six months at a distance of 375 km from its surface and 80,000 km when away elliptically," Mars orbiter mission project director S Arunan said.
National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) would provide support to the ground-segment operations from the Deep Space Network.About the same time the Indian spacecraft takes off, NASA too will send up its MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) mission to Mars. But the two will work independently, Dr. Shivakumar said.