The area where Nasa's Curiosity rover landed.

New Delhi - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says Indian science and technology will take a giant leap forward under a plan to send a space mission to Mars next year.

Singh says his Cabinet has approved a mission that will collect important scientific information about the red planet.

Singh announced the unmanned Mars mission during a speech on Wednesday to mark the 65th anniversary of India's independence from British rule.

Scientists say the spacecraft is expected to take nearly 11 months to get close to Mars after which it will be placed in orbit around the planet.

Last week, Nasa's new robot rover named Curiosity landed in a huge crater on Mars and has begun a host of scientific studies of the planet.

India has had an active space program since the 1960s. - Sapa-AP