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Why the Moon again?


Critics argue the Moon Mission is a sheer waste of money

BANGALORE (PTI): Why moon again? Critics have questioned India's Chandrayaan-1 unmanned moon mission, pointing to explorations done by other countries in the past.

They say the venture is expensive, "wasting resources" and objectives are nothing but "reinventing the wheel".

But offficials at the Bangalore-headquartered space agency strongly disagree with the reasons.

ISRO said though dozens of manned and unmanned spacecraft have explored the moon, this does not mean that every important aspect of the moon is known to humans or fully understood by them. On the contrary, there are many secrets, which the moon is yet to reveal.

These concern the origin and evolution of the moon, very detailed understanding of the mineralogy of the moon, abundance of Helium-3, said to be a relatively clean fuel for future nuclear fusion reactors, and what appears to be the presence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the moon's polar areas.

"Thus, from the point of view of human intellectual quest as well as in the context of the future of humanity, exploration of the moon is very important," ISRO officials say.

In the past few years, there has been a renaissance with regard to the lunar exploration.

According to ISRO, many countries and international space agencies, including the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan, China, the US and Russia have undertaken or in the process of undertaking unmanned exploratory missions to moon.

These missions intend to seek answers to some of the fundamental questions that concern the moon. "India's Chandrayaan-1 is an integral part of that renewed interest of the international scientific community about the moon." The cost of Chandrayaan-1 mission is Rs 386 crore, including Rs 100 crore for the establishment of Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu near here, which performs the important task of receiving radio signals by the lunar spacecraft that are incredibly feeble by the time they reach the earth. IDSN would be used for future deep space missions also.

"The cost (Rs 386 crore) is less than ten per cent of ISRO's annual budget," said ISRO spokesperson S Satish, dismissing suggestions that it's an expensive project.

ISRO officials say the Chandrayaan-1 mission would significantly build on India's technological capability to undertake inter-planetary missions in the coming years. The mission would reflect ISRO's strong capability, raise India's stature internationally and help New Delhi catch up in the race for moon, they said.

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