Friday, September 11, 2009

Expt to trace ice on moon fails due to loss of Chandrayaan-I

An experiment to look for ice in the polar region of the moon has failed with the abrupt loss of India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-I, a scientist associated with the project has said.

A well-coordinated cosmic dance of two mooncraft Chandrayaan-I and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was conducted late last month to study the polar craters of the moon which, scientists believe, could be the storehouse of water.

"Everything worked out as best as could be hoped, except for one thing. It turned out Chandrayaan-I was not pointed at the moon when we were taking the data, but we didn't know that at the time," said Paul Spudis, principal investigator for Chandrayaan-I radar instrument, Mini-SAR.

The experiment was attempted on 20th August when both spacecraft were only 20 kilometres apart over Erlanger Crater near the moon's north pole.

A radar on board Chandrayaan-I was to transmit a signal to be bounced off from the interior the crater and picked up by LRO.

But, Chandrayaan-I was pointed in the wrong direction and scientists had no way of knowing it, Spudis told 'Universe Today' website.

Scientists were planning to compare the signal picked up by the LRO with the one picked up by Chandrayaan-I.

The study of the two signals would have provided them with unique information about ice on the polar crater.

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