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India joins elite lunar club soon: ISRO

The ISRO boss informs India would be launching satellite "Chandrayan" next year, reports Pradip K Maitra.

tech reviews Updated: Aug 03, 2007 21:55 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

The country will join the elite lunar club by launching "Chandrayan," India’s space mission to moon, soon.

The noted space scientist and chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Dr Madhavan Nair informed that India would be launching its satellite "Chandrayan" by middle of next year, carrying out scientific experiments on moon. The satellite, weighing about 560 kgs would be placed in orbit 100 kms from the moon. It would stay in orbit for two years and carry out a thorough study of the entire surface of the moon.

The ISRO has already made it clear that Indian lunar mission will not be an exercise in reinventing the wheel. Chandrayan will strive to unravel the hitherto unknown features of the moon for the first time. Moreover, Dr Nair points out that a lunar mission can provide impetus to science in India, a challenge to technology and possibly a new dimension to international cooperation.

The studies would include terrain mapping and spectrometric study of the minerals. He said that the satellite would carry 12 instruments, including 6 from India, 4 from Europe and 2 from the United States of America (USA), to carry out the studies.

The construction of the satellite had already started at Bangalore and it would be ready by the end of the year, the ISRO chief said, adding that it would be launched with India's indigenous launch vehicle PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).

Answering a question, the ISRO chief said that India's manned mission to the moon was still 'a very long way' away. "We will start by putting a man in a capsule in space in 2015. A manned mission to moon will come only beyond 2020," he said. India would be in a position to send a satellite to Mars in six or seven years time, but the mission had to be scientifically very interesting, the ISRO boss said.

In another question, he said that a detailed study was necessary to determine whether the Ram Setu (Adam's Bridge), the ancient structure between India and Sri Lanka, was manmade or not. "Satellite images showed the existence of an almost continuous structure just below the surface of the sea, sometimes barely a few feet, between the two countries. However, the composition of the structure is not known. A thorough investigation will be necessary to find out what it is made of," he said.

The structure is at the centre of a controversy as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is opposing its proposed demolition for the Sethusamudram Canal Project (SSCP), which envisages linking Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar by making a shipping canal through Rameshwaram. The canal will enable ships to save 16 hours of voyage of 400 nautical miles around Sri Lanka.