labels: aerospace, indian space research organisation, technology, space
Lunar mission; not a lunatic missionnews
Venkatachari Jagannathan
12 May 2003


Sriharikota: Perhaps the only space project that has raised many an eyebrow is Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Rs 400-crore lunar probe mission. However, ISRO scientists are convinced about its usefulness.

"Opponents of the project have no concept of the lunar probe. Ours is entirely different and we are not reinventing the wheel," says a passionate Dr K Kasturirangan, chairman, ISRO.

"If wheel has to be reinvented, it has to be done. We need to develop our own scientific and technical expertise. The next step after satellite launches is space exploration," adds Dr P S Goel, member, Space Commission, and director, ISRO Satellite Centre. "India would do anything that will make her technologically independent."

What he says is true. Whether it is in the field of atomic power or in the space arena, India has been at the receiving end, being subject to denial of technology by the West. Both the officials argue that the technological and scientific benefits that would follow a lunar probe on the domestic industry will be immense. Already ISRO has started transferring some of the technologies and software developed for its use.

With ISRO's Lunar Mission Task Force giving a positive report in favour of the lunar mission, the ball is now with the government for funds sanction. The team has proposed an unmanned spacecraft of about 250 to 300 kgs into a 100-km orbit around the moon using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle/Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV/GSLV).

The lunar probe's objective is to realise the technological goal for planetary missions. The scientific goals are preparing a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10 metres) of regions of scientific interest on the moon and chemical mapping of the lunar surface for exploration. For the space scientists the moon is still a mystery that remains to be solved.

According to Kasturirangan the US, Japan and also Europe are showing renewed interest in exploring the moon. "Even China has expressed its keenness. Soon the moon will be swarming with varied equipment. We are also getting enquiries from other countries to join with us in the moon mission."

 

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Lunar mission; not a lunatic mission