India's first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-1, will be launched in the first half of 2008, the scientist heading the project said on Wednesday.
Jitendranath Goswami, a scientist with Ahmedabad-based physical research laboratory, said the date for the Indian Space Research Organisation's unmanned moon mission will be finalised later as an eclipse is scheduled for February 2008.
"The mission will leave just after the eclipse...But for sure it will leave in early 2008," he told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of a lecture organised by the National Institute of Oceanography.
The mission will study the moon's physical, chemical and physio-chemical properties and its crater history.
It is also a remote sensing mission with the objective of micrological, chemical and geological mapping, he said.
"This will be the first attempt to detect emission of low energy gamma rays from a planetary surface," Goswami said.
The Rs 400-crore spacecraft will carry two research instrument payloads from abroad-one from NASA and another from Bulgaria, he said.
Asked about collaboration with the US for the mission, Goswami said ISRO is open to such scientific collaborations.
"We cannot forget that India had few of its firsts due to the US...We had our first education TV channel because an American satellite was stationed over India," he explained.
Chandrayaan-II will be a reality in 2011-12 and it too will be an unmanned mission. "Before sending man (to the moon), we need to develop a lot of technologies," he said.