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India's breakthrough mission to Mars (pictures)

The country's first-ever mission to Mars launches into space carrying five scientific payloads with which it will observe the planet's surface, atmosphere, and exosphere.

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James Martin
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1 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

India launches mission to Mars

The Indian Space Research Association today launched the Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, India.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, the country's first mission to the Red Planet, is carrying five scientific payloads with which it will observe the Martian surface, atmosphere, and exosphere. Using a camera, two spectrometers, a radiometer and a photometer, the mission hopes to gain a more detailed understanding of the evolution of the planet, focusing on geologic and the possible life-sustaining processes.

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2 of 10 NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

Diwali Festival of Lights

The launch comes during the Diwali Festival of Lights, one of the most important holidays in the Hindu religion, which began Sunday. Here, Indian Sikh devotees light candles at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine, Golden Temple, in Amritsar on Sunday.

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3 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Launch preparations

The Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft is seen attached to the fourth stage of the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle and ready for heat-shield closure during launch preparations.
The launch vehicle will first orbit Earth for almost a month while it builds up the necessary velocity to break free from our planet's gravitational pull.
The Indian Space Research Association says the total cost of the project is Rs. 450 crore -- or $73 million -- just one-sixth of the cost of NASA's Maven Mars probe set to be launched from Cape Canaveral on November 18.

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4 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Panaromic view of First Launch Pad

A wide angle, panoramic view of the launch pad with the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle during a launch rehearsal.

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5 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

PSLV-C25 assembly

Engineers hoist the third and fourth stages of the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle during vehicle integration.

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6 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Hoisting of the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle

Hoisting of the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle second stage in the Mobile Service Tower.

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7 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

First Stage

Hoisting of one of the segments of the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle assembly during first stage vehicle integration.

Strap-on rockets
8 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Strap-on rockets

Preparation of one of the strap-on rockets before its integration with the PSLV-C25 launch vehicle first stage.

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9 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Spacecraft antenna testing

Spacecraft antenna undergoing test at the Comprehensive Antenna Test Facility.

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10 of 10 Indian Space Research Association

Pre-launch test at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR

Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft being prepared for a prelaunch test at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Srihairkota on October 4.

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