India sends satellite to Mars

India has successfully launched a controversial space rocket which it hopes to use to reach Mars.

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India using low-cost technology for Mars mission

India has successfully launches its first rocket to Mars, aiming to put a satellite in orbit around the planet at a lower cost than previous missions, thus potentially positioning the nation as a budget player in the global space race.

The mission is considerably cheaper than previous missions by the United States, Europe and Russia. Costing 4.5 billion rupees - (or approximately just £45.7 million) it is a fraction of the cost of an average NASA satellite mission.

However the mission has attracted criticism due to the high levels of poverty, malnutrition and power shortages suffered by millions across the country.

The UK currently gives India £280 million a year in financial aid, but this will end in 2015.

Read: UK financial aid to India to end

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India's space agency set for Mars mission

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists have already started counting down to lift-off. Credit: APTN

India's space agency to is counting down to launch its first ever rocket to Mars this morning.

Read: India prepares for blast off on its first trip to Mars

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists have said the mission is primarily aimed at testing the best technologies to fly and orbit and communicate from the Red Planet.

The launch follows the 2008-2009 Chandrayaan- 1 moon probe.
It is the first time India has attempted to launch a mission to Mars. Credit: APTN

If the mission is successful, and the satellite orbits the Red Planet, India's space agency will become the fourth in the world, after the US, Russia and Europe, to undertake a successful Mars mission.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission is due to blast off today. Credit: APTN

The 56-hour countdown to launch started on Sunday.

Today's mission follows India's successful 2008-2009 Chandrayaan-1 moon probe, which discovered water molecules in the lunar soil.

More: Mars 'best bet' for human life when Earth gets too hot

India prepares for blast off on its first trip to Mars

India is counting down to its maiden voyage to Mars later today with its unmanned orbiter Mangal­yaan, aka Mars Orbiter Mission.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission, the country's first interplanetary foray, is due to blast off today.
India's Mars Orbiter Mission, the country's first interplanetary foray, is due to blast off today. Credit: Reuters

It will take 11 months for the aircraft to reach the Red Planet, where it will conduct "meaningful scientific experiments" according to K Radhakrishnan, chair of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Among the Mars Orbiter Mission's ambitious goals is a search for methane in the Martian atmosphere. On Earth, the chemical is strongly tied to life.

Read: One in five stars 'circled by Earth-like planet'

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Evidence 'seems to be building that we are all Martians'

The evidence "seems to be building that we are actually all Martians" and "that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," according to a scientist from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in the US.

Professor Steven Benner said, "It's lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell."

The surface of Mars.
Professor Steven Benner said evidence 'seems to be building' that humans are actually Martians. Credit: Reuters/NASA

Prof Benner told the Goldschmidt 2013 conference in Italy that the oxidised mineral form of the element molybdenum, "couldn't have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did".

"It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet," he added.

Life on Earth 'may have started on Mars'

Life on Earth may have started on Mars, a major science conference has heard.

An element believed to be crucial to the origin of life would only have been available on the surface of the Red Planet, Geochemist Professor Steven Benner claims.

Mars viewed from Space.
Life on Earth may have started on Mars, according to Geochemist Professor Steven Benner. Credit: ITV News

Professor Benner argues that the "seeds" of life probably arrived on Earth in meteorites blasted off Mars by impacts or volcanic eruptions.

He points to the oxidised mineral form of the element molybdenum, thought to be a catalyst that helped organic molecules develop into the first living structures, as evidence of his theory.

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