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ISRO, NASA launch moon exploration programme
November 20, 2006 10:16 IST
In the first ever joint space programme between India and the US, National Aeronautics and Space Administration has joined hands with Indian Space Research Organisation for launching a unique Moon Mineral Mapping mission by March 2008. This will open a new vista in joint scientific collaboration between the two countries.
Highlighting the details of the unique project, which has already been termed a 'giant step' by the world scientific research community, Dr Alok K Chatterjee, an Indian American project engineer at NASA, said on Sunday that the M3 project was aimed at performing detailed mineral mapping on the surface of moon.
This will be carried out not only for gaining greater scientific knowledge but also for exploration, if possible for the use of mankind in the coming years.
Dr Chatterjee works in the world famous jet propulsion laboratory in NASA and is closely associated with the multi-billion dollar space programme.
Claiming that the first such major joint scientific and space exploration by the two largest democracies in the world would open a new window of opportunity in diversified sectors, Dr Chatterjee said this collaborative effort would be a harbinger of future cooperation in several other future space missions.
Speaking to UNI, Dr Chatterjee, who also worked for ISRO under President APJ Abdul Kalam for nine years, said he was very confident that apart from sending several unmanned missions to space, 'ISRO would be in a position to send a manned mission to moon by 2020'.
"Even the NASA chief, during his recent visit to ISRO, had stated similar views," Dr Chatterjee said and hoped that there would be no dearth of funds for India's first manned mission to moon as he felt the Indian economy was strong enough to meet the demand.
Dr Chatterjee said under the project, scientists of both organisations had already developed one 'unique instrument' which, on reaching the moon, would reflect the photo-synthesis of all major mineral deposits both on the surface and under the surface and send back all necessary data to its earth station for processing and future explorations.
Asked about the total cost of the project, which is said to run into several billion dollars, Dr Chatterjee said he was not aware of the financial aspects of the mission. The exact date of its launch is yet to be decided.