The island of Sriharkiota, off the east coast of India, was the site of the launch of the country's first mission to Mars on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Approximately 45 minutes later, the 3,000-pound "Mangalyaan" orbiter separated from the rocket, embarking upon an elliptical path around Earth. From there, after about three weeks' time, it will begin its accelerated path toward the red planet. The orbiter needs to travel 485 million miles in a period of roughly 300 days in order to reach an orbit around Mars in September 2014.

"The biggest challenge will be precisely navigating the spacecraft to Mars," said K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization. "We will know if we pass our examination on Sept. 24, 2014."

Photo courtesy of El Economista.