Our baby found water on moon: ISRO scientist

September 24th, 2009 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO By Fakir Balaji
Bangalore, Sep 24 (IANS) The “baby” had done its job by finding water on the moon, India’s ace space scientist and project director of the country’s maiden lunar mission M. Annadurai said here Thursday.

“The baby has done its job by helping us find water on the moon,” Annadurai, project director of Chandrayaan-1, told IANS here. The mission had to be aborted Aug 30 after Chandrayaan-1 lost contact with Earth.

The mooncraft was coined ‘baby’ by its main architect Annadurai when it was successfully launched Oct 22, 2008 by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Terming the discovery of water molecules by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US as one of the milestones of the mission, Annadurai said the scientific feat was a landmark event in international space cooperation between India and other countries.

“It is one of the milestones. We have to quantify it. It was a combined team effort. Finding presence of water or ice has been one of the mission’s scientific objectives apart from terrain mapping and mineral mapping,” Annadurai recalled.

He hinted that more dramatic findings from the moon mission would be published in international scientific journals later.

“This is only the first paper. We had 11 payloads (scientific instruments) on board Chandrayaan-1. We expect more such papers to be published in the coming weeks and months about the experiments conducted by the instruments.”

M3 found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the moon’s surface, but the water signature appeared stronger at the moon’s higher latitudes.

Two NASA spacecraft — the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on the Cassini spacecraft and the High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft — confirmed the discovery.

Crediting the Indian Space Research Agency (ISRO) for its role in the findings, Pieters said “if it were not for them (ISRO), we would not have been able to make this discovery.”

Chandrayaan-1 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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