The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) mission to Mars next year.
The project, which comes on the heels of the Chandrayaan mission to the moon, envisages putting a spacecraft in the red planet’s orbit to study its atmosphere, with the help of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
India joins the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China in undertaking such an effort.
The launch is slated for November next year from Sriharikota. The Space Commission gave its clearance for the mission in December last.
The spacecraft will have a scientific payload of 25 kg and is proposed to be placed in an orbit of 500x80,000 km around the planet.
Sources in the ISRO said November was chosen, as the planet would be closest to the earth that time.
The next such opportunity will come only in the summer of 2018.
NASA is also said to be working on a Mars mission in November next year.
The mission is estimated to cost about Rs.450 crore. An initial provision of Rs.125 crore was made in this year’s budget to kick-start the work.