India’s lunar mission vital for exploring Mars: Kalam

June 26th, 2008 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of ISRO

Bangalore, June 26 (IANS) India’s upcoming lunar mission is vital for space explorations as moon will become an intermediate platform for Mars, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said here Thursday. With five decades of association with India’s space, defence and nuclear programmes, Kalam told reporters here the country’s first lunar orbital mission - Chandrayaan-1 - had a very important message for all.

“In future, we have to consider earth, moon and Mars as a single complex for the benefit of humankind. Mars may have water. We need a new habitat. Moon has got Helium (He3), an important material for generating power in enormous quantity,” Kalam said on the sidelines of an international conference on aerospace science and technologies.

As a light, non-radioactive isotope, with two protons and one neutron, Helium is a chemical element, which is widely believed to be in abundance on moon though not as much on earth.

The 525kg Chandrayaan-1 is being assembled and integrated with 11 experimental payloads for launch using an advanced version of the indigenous polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) from Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota, about 90km from Chennai.

“The launch date for lunar mission will be decided in a month though September is the earliest. It will be a unique mission for the total mapping of the moon, which does not exist till date,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G.Madhavan Nair said.

As part of lunar exploration, Chandrayaan will also look for rare elements on the surface of the moon that will hold vital clues for further exploration of earth’s only natural satellite.

“The high resolution images of the lunar surface will provide a three-dimensional atlas of the near and far side of the moon, chemical and mineralogical data to study their distribution,” Nair told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

The Rs 4-billion ($120 million) orbital mission will explore the lunar surface from an altitude of 100km for over two years, mapping the topography and the mineralogical content of the moon.

Chandrayaan will have a moon impact probe payload for demonstrating the technology needed for accurate landing on the surface in the subsequent mission.

“In the second lunar probe (Chandrayaan-2), planned for launch in 2012, we will have a rover and lander deployed on the moon’s surface to pick up samples, analyse them and send back the data to our deep space network for further studies,” Nair said.

The Russian space agency will collaborate with ISRO for the second lunar probe to jointly develop the rover and the lander.

Commanding the Indian space agency for achieving self-reliance in building any type of satellite and launch vehicle, Kalam said missions to moon and Mars subsequently would have tremendous spin-offs for the country and its people.-

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