Indian scientists rejoice as Chandrayaan-1 traces ‘water’ in moon

September 24th, 2009 - 6:40 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) As news trickled out about Indian maiden lunar mission tracing water molecules on the moon’s surface, scientists rejoiced at the discovery and hope that it will pave the way for growing vegetation in the earth’s natural satellite in future.
“I am really very happy to know that the the NASA payload on Chandrayaan-1 has traced water. If it is true then it will pave the way for growing vegetation in moon surface in five or 10 years from now,” renowned scientist Y.S. Rajan told IANS.

“Even if there is no water in its complete H20 format, still it’s a great feat. It will help make human venturing to moon a more enriching experience. Those going to moon can combine the molecule and get water.

“They can also break it and get oxygen which is a major problem for scientists in space,” said Rajan, who has written the book “India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium”, along with former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

He said India’s moon mission was a “great success” that proved ISRO’s capability and efficiency in managing key space projects. “We have received loads of data from moon via our mission. It has certainly enriched the global scientific community.”

“The moon has distinct signatures of water,” top American scientist Carle Pieters confirmed Thursday.

“The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on board Chandrayaan-1,” M3 principal investigator Pieters said in a paper published in the journal Science.

Amitabha Ghosh, space scientist at NASA, said: “This is a very, very important finding… If somehow water was found on the moon, you could use that water right out there. You could extract it.”

“Right now, we don’t know what temperature it is, and whether there is a cost effective way of extracting it,” he added.

Mila Mitra, a scientist formerly associated with NASA, told IANS: “This is truly significant because it will help find any trace of life on moon.”

“Now you will see more money being invested in moon missions. There might be manned moon missions. Now you will see more emphasis on such endeavours,” she added.

S. Chandrasekaran, another leading scientist, said: “Yes, we are very happy. I was not part of the mission so cannot give technical details but yes, the discovery is very significant. It is great and very important.”

Last year, former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan had told IANS: “For me personally, if Chandrayaan-1 manages to find evidence of water on the moon, then that would be the biggest achievement.”

Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The spacecraft carried five Indian instruments and six from abroad, including M3 and another from NASA, three from the European Space Agency (ESA), and one from Bulgaria.

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