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India to explore moon's surface for helium-3

Chandrayaan will search moon's surface for deposits of helium-3 that can be used to power future nuclear reactors.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2006 05:50 IST

India's ambitious lunar mission Chandrayaan will search the moon's surface for deposits of helium-3, which can be used to power future nuclear reactors, a top scientific official said on Thursday.

"It's quite possible (to extract helium-3 from the moon)," said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Madhavan Nair, adding that the regions that hold the inert gas on the lunar surface need to be found.

"The quantity of helium-3 is also very important as it will determine the economics before we exploit it," he said while speaking at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.

Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Anil Kakodkar, who was also present, said, "Our energy requirements are increasing by the day and for how long will we be dependent on terrestrial fuels? We have to look at external sources."

Kakodkar said helium-3 would be very useful for nuclear fission purposes. There are miniscule deposits of helium-3 on the earth but the moon is believed to have abundant reserves of the element.

Instruments for Chandrayaan, which is scheduled for launch in 2007, are being built now and preliminary tests are also going on, Nair said.

Nair said the high level committee's report on the failure of the GSLV mission in July would be submitted in a week's time.

"In spite of (the failure), we have bagged contracts to launch two major European satellites ahead of NASA and the European space agency ARIANE," Nair said while addressing the 49th batch of BARC's training school.