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Moon mission celebrates 100 days

india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 12:58 IST
BR Srikanth

Chandrayaan-I's 100th day in space on Thursday found space scientists from across the world rejoicing quietly.

India's first unmanned orbiter to Earth's nearest astral neighbour had beamed home over the 50,000 data-laden images of Moon so far and the scientists were rejoicing. The scientists were from the United State's National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the 17-nation European Space Agency (ESA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). They had designed and put together 11 instruments onboard the orbiter.

They gathered at ISRO's Satellite Centre, where Chandrayaan-I was assembled, to share the data for the first time since the launch.

"Everybody is happy that the instruments are performing to perfection. We are going to work out how to move ahead with the rest of the mission (to orbit Moon for two years)," G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of ISRO told HT.

The scientists are optimistic that the images would throw up exciting details about Moon's craters, poles, mountains, soil and -- most important - information about the evolution of the solar system.

"ESA's instruments are performing phenomenally. Recently, we have seen the presence of metals like aluminum, magnesium, silicon and calcium. It will take us some more time to know where they are concentrated (in lunar soil), "Christian Erd, ESA's project manager of science payloads, said.

Ditto with Paul Spudis, senior lunar scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute, USA, who heads the team which designed Mini-SAR (mini-synthetic aperture radar). "We have looked at the images and they are great," he said.