India Shoots for Mars
India's first Mars orbiter mission is scheduled to arrive in late 2014.
The rocket carrying the robotic orbiter called Mangalayan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, thundered into space at 9:08 a.m. GMT from India's Sriharikota island spaceport. It successfully deployed its solar panels 44 minutes later.
Mangalayan's 485-million-mile (780-million-kilometer) trip to the red planet will take the better part of ten months and end on September 24, 2014. The spacecraft will then attempt to go into orbit.
The launch underlines the growing prowess of Asia's space-faring nations, such as China and Japan, that have notable space programs under way.
India's space agency, the India Space Research Organization (ISRO), hopes the Mars mission uncovers the secrets behind the disappearance of the red planet's seas several billion years ago, while observing its current-day weather.