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Why India Went to Mars

On Wednesday, having travelled four hundred and ten million miles, India’s Mangalyaan probe settled into orbit around Mars.

It will linger there for only six months—about a fifth of the time that it took to build the spacecraft and dispatch it to the Red Planet.

The orbiter’s scientific agenda appears to be skimpy.

Text 1aIt will send back images of a surface that was first photographed up close by the Mariner 4 spacecraft, in 1965, and it will assay the Martian atmosphere for methane, a gas that mystifyingly replenishes itself instead of being broken down by the…

Beyond these goals, the…

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