1. On Nov. 5, at 4 a.m. ET, India launched a spacecraft bound for Mars.
2. The rocket, PSLV-C25, carrying the 3,000-pound Mars orbiter Mangalyaan (“Mars craft” in Hindi) took off from the island of Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
3. After 44 minutes the Mars orbiter separated from the rocket and will have to travel 485 million miles to reach an orbit around Mars.
4. The orbiter will have to travel over 300 days and will be expected to reach an orbit around Mars on Sept. 24, 2014.
5. India’s Mars mission, which began in 2010, cost $72 million. That’s a fraction of the cost of NASA’s Mars project.
6. If successful, India will be only the fourth nation the world to reach the red planet after the US, the Soviet Nation and Europe. More than half of all Mars projects by different countries have failed, including those by China and Japan.
7. The main objectives of the Mars mission are to determine how Martian weather systems work and to search for methane, an indicator of life processes on the planet.
The data collected by the orbiter will help to understand what conditions could make life possible on other planets.
8. The orbiter will have at least six months to investigate Mars’ landscape and atmosphere.
Mars’ surface captured by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity.