US, Russia to help track India’s moon mission

August 24th, 2008 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) India will be helped by Russia, Spain and the United States in deep space tracking of Chandrayaan-I, its maiden moon mission that will be launched later this year.”Deep Space tracking of Chandrayaan-I is a tough task and needs global support. We are getting support from Russia, Spain and the US for tracking the movement of the mission,” K. Kasturirangan, former head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. Kasturirangan is currently an adviser to ISRO.

“India has set up two antennas of 18 metre diameter and 32 metre diameter to track Chandrayaan but, looking at the huge task, other space agencies like NASA will help us in getting enough data,” Kasturirangan said.

Chandrayan-I, India’s first unmanned lunar mission will be launched either in late October or in early December. ISRO does not launch any mission in November due to cyclonic atmosphere.

Kasturirangan said that while the 18-metre deep space network (DSN) antenna will track the movement of Chandrayan up to 100,000 km, the 32-metre DSN antenna would help capture data from the mission that involves a distance of 400,000 km.

ISRO has already installed the indigenously built 32-metre DSN antenna at Byalalu, a village 32 km from Bangalore.

M.G.K. Menon, another leading scientist and a former ISRO chief, said that deep space tracking network is expensive but once India builds the required infrastructure for it, “we can use it repeatedly and reap the benefit”.

ISRO spokesman S. Satish, who was in Delhi earlier this week, said that the Chandrayaan had already been assembled.

“It’s like a dress rehearsal now. It’s undergoing several tests to face the tough environment of the moon. Soon it will undergo a vibration and acoustic test,” Satish told IANS.

“It will probe if there is water in the polar part of the moon. It will investigate the origin and its evolution,” he added.

The spacecraft will be launched by indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and will carry 11 payloads, including six of foreign countries.

These 11 payloads will bring back best digital elevation map of the moon, mineral concentration, and carry out environmental studies, direct measurement of radioactivity and provide transport on the lunar surface.

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