ISRO chief lukewarm to water on moon reports

ISRO chief lukewarm to water on moon reports


“I cannot confirm (water presence in the moon) at this moment; may be by the end of the week, whatever we have found we will let you know,” ISRO Chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair said at a press conference here after PSLV-C14 successfully launched the remote sensing satellite Oceansat-2 on Wednesday.
Dr Nair said: “Right now we are looking at the planet Earth and the oceans; not the moon.” He did commend though on the efficacy of the MMM on board Chandrayaan-I, which it may be recalled had lost radio contact with ISRO’s headquarters in Bangalore on August 29.

The MMM had done a “fantastic job and it had given 97 per cent coverage of the lunar surface,” Dr Nair said but declined to confirm the reports about NASA scientists optimism about a water-find on the moon post-Chandrayaan-I.
Asked how the ISRO had underestimated the radiation levels in the lunar environment which baked the star censors of the spacecraft sent to the moon, Dr Nair disagreed with this perception. The lessons learnt from the Chandrayaan-I mission were, however, inapplicable to the launch vehicle technology that India had mastered, he emphasised. Asserting that the Chandrayaan-I spacecraft had performed as designed, the ISRO chief said, “it was a 100 per cent success as far as the moon mission’s objective is concerned.” Some anomalies such as high radiation levels were not unusual, while various “hostile factors” in the space also played a part, he noted.

Besides the radiation levels in the space itself, at times “some charged particles that penetrate the (spacecraft’s) shield,” could do the damage, Dr Nair reasoned. In the lunar environment, the radiation levels were much higher, he said adding the “power monitor” in the spacecraft got affected. In the next moon mission, “these inputs will be kept in mind,” he added.
To a related query, Dr Nair said: “Chandrayaan-I was now almost a dead object. It was going around the moon and we cannot do anything about it. It would go on in that fashion for about 1,000 days and at the end of which it will crash on the moon’s surface”.

Disclosing that the “preliminary design” for ISRO’s second moon mission, which will include an orbiter and a “lander” that would do a soft landing on the lunar surface had been completed, Dr Nair said they planned to launch Chandrayaan-II by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre’s Director K Radhakrishnan, disclosed that the ISRO planned the launch of its next generation launch vehicle, the “Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)”, from Sriharikota in December this year. The first and second stage of the GSLV-D3 have been integrated, while the third indigenous cryogenic stage was under test, he said adding GSLV-D3 would put into orbit a communication satellite GSAT-4.

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