There's a New Player on the Mars Scene

India's MOM probe succeeds at cost of just $72M
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2014 12:45 AM CDT
India Makes History With Mars Orbiter
Scientists and officials cheer as they celebrate the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission at their Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network complex in Bangalore, India.   (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

A proud day for India and its MOM: After a tense countdown early today, scientists in a Bangalore command center rejoiced as the country's Mars Orbiter Mission succeeded in putting a spacecraft in orbit around the red planet. The "Mangalyaan"—Hindi for "Mars craft"—probe makes India's space agency the fourth to send a mission to Mars, and the first to succeed on its first attempt, the BBC reports. "The odds were stacked against us," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the command center. "Of 51 missions attempted across the world so far, only 21 have succeeded. We have prevailed."

Only the US, the European Space Agency, and the former Soviet Union have also successfully sent probes to Mars. At $72 million, the Indian mission is believed to be the cheapest interplanetary mission in history; Modi noted that the mission's budget was lower than that of the movie Gravity. It's also just 11% of what the US spent on the Maven probe, reports Bloomberg. "We kept it low cost, high technology. That is the Indian way of working," an official at a planetarium in Jaipur tells the Washington Post. "Our goal was to reach Mars and send [a] few pictures and scientific data. Now in the coming years, this will give us leverage to plan for newer Mars missions in a more aggressive manner with heavier payload with larger exploration goals." (More Mars Orbiter Mission stories.)

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