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First moon feat
Published on 26 Sep. 2009 12:44 AM IST
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ISRO prompted to rethink on Chandrayaan-II India’s Moon Impact Probe (MIP) was the first instrument to detect water on the moon - way back in November last year when the spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 entered lunar orbit, space agency chief G. Madhavan Nair said here Friday. “I am happy to share for the first time with all of you that the MIP, while it was descending from Chandrayaan to the moon Nov 14, 2008, picked up strong signals of water particles on the lunar surface,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman told reporters here. During its 20-minute descent from the Chandrayaan mother spacecraft until its impact near the pole, the 34-kg probe found the water particles varying from the lunar equator. The variation is under increasing trend. It is clearly coinciding with the observation from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) data of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “So, we have now multiple ways of confirming the presence of water on the moon. This is being acknowledged the world over as a real discovery. It is a path-breaking event as far as ISRO is concerned,” an elated Nair said. The mass spectrometre in the MIP registered signatures of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water. “In that signature, we could see a strong component corresponding to a mass fraction of 18, which is nothing but water. We had a serious doubt at that time. From the initial data, we could see a clear trend of increasing magnitude in the water molecules as it goes towards the poles. It is in line with what has come from M3,” Nair pointed out. The spectrometre also measured the constituents of the thin lunar atmosphere during the 20-minute descent. After the probe hit the lunar surface, the spectrometre analysed the chemicals and minerals of the moon and relayed the data to the earth. M3 principal investigator Carle Pieters confirmed in a paper published in Science Express, Sep 24 edition, that Chandrayaan-1 found evidence of water on the lunar surface. M3 was one of the 11 scientific instruments onboard Chandrayaan that the ISRO launched with fanfare Oct 22, 2008, but the lunar mission had to be aborted Aug 30 after it lost radio contact with the earth. ISRO rethinks Discovery of water on moon by Chandrayaan-I has prompted ISRO scientists to rethink on the experiments to be carried by its sequel mission scheduled for launch by 2013.ISRO plans to land two rovers on the lunar surface as part of Chandrayaan-II besides conducting several in-orbit experiments. “Following findings of Chandrayaan I, it would have to now look at midcourse correction of its objectives. We have to finetune it. There is some loud thinking on the issue going on,” ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told reporters here. Nair indicated that scientists were exploring possibilities of equipping the lunar rover with some instruments that could dig the moon surface and carry out in-situ experiments. While almost all experiments on Chandrayaan-II will be by Indian scientists, the lunar rover which will land on the moon will be sourced from Russia, Nair said. ISRO is also looking at ways to send a smaller indigenous version of the rover to the lunar surface. “Right now Chandrayaan-II is full,” Nair said adding that scientists were looking at how they could accommodate some additional payloads.

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