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India's moon mission on track
March 02, 2007 13:45 IST
Indian space scientists will begin satellite integration for its moon mission Chandrayaan-1 this month to ascertain that the country's first-of-its-kind venture next year is on track.
Chandrayaan-1 is a scientific investigation of the moon through spacecraft. It is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface in visible, near infrared, low energy X-ray and high-energy X-ray regions.
"Last week, we reviewed the situation. We are initiating satellite integration to start this month," Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan Nair told PTI in Bangalore.
Chandrayaan-1, the first Indian planetary science and exploration mission, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. It will take about five-and-half days for the lunar spacecraft to get to the moon.
"March-April (2008) are good time for launch," added Nair, Secretary in the Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission. The government-approved Bangalore-headquartered ISRO's proposal for the Rs 386 crore mission was given the go ahead in November 2003. The mission would prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10 m) of both near and far side of the Moon.
It will also conduct chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as magnesium, aluminum, silicon, calcium, iron and titanium with a spatial resolution of about 20 km and high atomic number of elements such as radon, uranium and thorium with a spatial resolution of about 40 km.
"By simultaneous photo geological and chemical mapping, we will be able to identify different geological units, which will test the hypothesis for the origin and early history for the moon and help in determining the nature of the lunar crust," according to Nair. There are altogether 11 scientific instruments onboard Chandrayaan-1 -- five Indian and the rest six from European Space Agency (three), NASA (two) and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (one).
"There are a few critical sub-systems", Nair said. "We are trying to identify how additional resources can be pumped in to still keep the launch target".