Bangalore: While India's maiden mission to Mars is yet to take off, the country has already made its presence felt on the Red Planet, with craters named after its major cities.
Several of these craters that dot the planet, formed as a result of asteroid hits, have been christened by the global community.
The 'Lonar' crater, 11.3 kilometres in diameter, is possibly named after Maharashtra's scenic which itself was formed after an asteroid strike. The crater 'Poona' is 20 kilometres in diameter and is named after the modern-day Pune city in Maharashtra. Yet another crater, 'Kakori', has possibly derived its name from a town near Lucknow which shot to fame during the Independence movement.
"It's correct that India is already on Mars with many craters having Indian names. According to an international rule, craters less than 60 kilometres in diameter are named after town with populations less than 100,000 people," Sujan Sengupta, planetary scientist at Bangalore's Indian Institute of Astrophysics said.
Mangalyaan, the unmanned satellite which will fly all the way to the Red Planet, is scheduled for launch at 2:58 pm on Tuesday from Sriharokota in Andhra Pradesh. The mission, which will cost Rs. 450 crores, will study the Martian atmosphere.