The $73.5 million Mangalyaan spacecraft weighs 2,980 pounds (1,350 kilograms). Through the course of several orbits, the spacecraft will perform a series of maneuvers to place it on a path to Mars.
Once at Mars, the probe will explore the surface features of the Red Planet and probe its atmosphere for signs of nonbiological or microbe-emitted methane. The spacecraft is also designed to test technology used for navigation, communication and interplanetary space travel, ISRO officials have said.
"We have a lot to understand about the universe, the solar system where we live in, and it has been humankind's quest from the beginning," Radhakrishnan told the Associated Press before launch.
If the probe reaches Mars, it will make India the fourth country (or collaboration of countries) to reach the Red Planet after the former Soviet Union, the United States and Europe. Nearly two-thirds of the 51 missions ever launched to Mars have failed.
"To visit another planet is a fantastic thing, the biggest thing," space scientist Yash Pal, a former chairman of India's University Grants Commission who was not involved in developing the Mars mission, told the Associated Press. "If you can afford airplanes and war machines, you can certainly spend something to fulfill the dreams of young people."