Moon over Mumbai

October 21, 2008

India will launch a lunar probe tomorrow in a bid to keep with China in the new Asian space race, which also features Japan and South Korea as contestants. At stake — national pride and billions of rupees or euros or yuan (will we speaking of dollars in the future??) in space businesses such as satellite launches. Satellite launches will become commoditized with NASA needing to outsource its lift capability the same way US corporations outsource database administration. 

The Chandrayaan-1 mission is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared(NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions. Specifically the objectives will be
To prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10m) of both near and far side of the moon.
To conduct chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium with a spatial resolution of about 25 km and high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium & Thorium with a spatial resolution of about 20 km.
Click here to large view
Simultaneous photo geological and chemical mapping will enable identification of different geological units, which will test the early evolutionary history of the moon and help in determining the nature and stratigraphy of the lunar crust.


On the criteria of price, India has proven so far to be the low cost leader in lunar probes:

If successful, India joins the Asian powers China and Japan, which have already undertaken their own lunar missions.

But it’s doing it at a fraction of the cost – $80m compared to China’s $187m lunar probe launched last year and Japan’s $480m Kayuga mission.

And with a much smaller budget than NASA with arguably better results for the cash lately

Its budget is less than $1bn a year, compared with more than $17bn that Nasa spends. India’s remote sensing capabilities are almost legendary. Today there are seven Indian-made and operated remote sensing satellites in orbit, the largest number of any country in the civilian domain.

Can this translate in part to a higher standard of living for the Indian people? Looks like other flags will be joining Old Glory on the Moon in coming decades.


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