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India, US ink pact on moon mission
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 9
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) today signed a historic agreement to send two American scientific instruments, including one which will search for water, on board India’s first mission to the moon — Chandrayaan-1 — in 2008.

The memorandum of understanding between the heads of the two agencies — G. Madhavan Nair (ISRO) and Michael Griffin (NASA) — was signed at ISRO’s Satellite Application Centre here.

The two instruments include the mini synthetic aperture radar whose objective is to detect water in the permanently shadowed areas of the lunar polar region.

The instrument has been developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory in John Hopkins University.

The second instrument — moon mineralogy napper — will study the mineral composition on the surface of the moon. This instrument has been jointly developed by Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

The Indian payload on Chandrayaan-1 include a terrain mapping camera (TMC), a hyper spectral imager (HySI0), a high energy X-ray spectrometer (HEX), a lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI) and a moon impact probe (MIP).

These will investigate the distribution of various minerals and chemical elements besides conducting high-resolution three-dimensional mapping of the entire lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-1 will also carry three instruments of the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

These include an imaging x-ray spectrometer from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, near infra-red spectrometer from Max Planck Institute, Germany, and sub keV atom reflecting analyser from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics from the ESA and a radiation dose monitor from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Chandrayaan-1, the country’s first unmanned mission to moon, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota off the Andhra coast using an advanced Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

Data from the instruments will be received at the National Data Centre, which will have a link with the principal partners.

ISRO Chairman said the mission was developing well and would be launched in early 2008. He said the mission was expected to create a new landmark in the history of space research and would open up new vistas for aeronautic operations on the lunar surface.

Inclusion of the US instruments would give a fillip to Indo-US cooperation in the space arena, he added.


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