India plans to send a satellite via an unmanned spacecraft to orbit Mars next year.
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bangalore expect the satellite to orbit at less than 100km above the planet.
The federal cabinet is expected to approve the mission soon, according to reports this week that said the programme will cost about $US80 million.
An ISRO spokesman said worldwide attention is now focussed on finding out if there are habitable spots on Mars.
India's space exploration programme began in 1962. India is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the moon in 2014.