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India mulling deeper exploration of water on moon


ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair (unseen) displayed an image taken by Chandrayaan-1, relating to presence of water on Moon, during a press conference at Antariksh Bhavan in Bangalore. Image credit: PTI

BANGALORE (PTI): Euphoric over finding traces of water by a Chandrayaan payload, confirmed by NASA's spacemate onboard the country's maiden moon mission, India is mulling exploring lunar surface deeper for water in its next Odyssey.

"What data we have got is really exciting. We want to see what further additions we can make to Chandrayaan-II's payload. We will definitely revisit the scientific objectives", Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Madhavan Nair told reporters here Friday.

ISRO was exploring a "mid-course correction" of the Chandrayaan-II's objectives, Nair said a day after the discovery of evidence of traces of water was announced by NASA in Washington and ISRO here.

Nair said ISRO was considering going deeper during Chandrayaan II, like landing a rover and drilling the surface to detect if there was any presence of water underneath the moon's surface.

"I think there is a strong interest that we should have more instrumentation for water. But we will look at it", the top scientist said.

Asked if Chandrayaan-II mission would be advanced, he said, "Moon has become exciting following the findings of water. But we cannot rush through the second mission. We will stick to the time line of 2013."

"We may have made a headstart in view of the results of the first moon mission," but it would take around two and half years to accomplish "concept to realisation stage of Chandryaan-II. But, more scientific objectives will be added," Nair said.

Apart from India's Moon Impact Probe, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) of NASA on board Chandrayaan-I also confirmed the presence of water.

In the wake of lessons learnt relating to the high degree of solar radiation during Chandrayaan I, forcing it to abort its mission prematurely late last month, he said, "We will take adequate margin and bolster shielding. It is quite manageable," he said.

Except for the lander and rover, the rest of the payloads on Chandrayaan II will be Indian. Chandrayaan II will have two rovers, one Indian and other Russian and the lander will also be from Russia.

On whether there had been any proposal on carrying more foreign payloads, he said, "I have handful of proposals. If you are going to pursue all of them, I will need three launches".

"Now we have to be very careful in selecting. As such Chandrayaan is full at the moment. We have to try our best to put extra capacity. We will be working on them", he said.

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