-- This could be the Indian space programme's finest moment. India's mooncraft Chandrayaan-I will guide Nasa scientists to the best spot on the moon to set up an international human station in 2020.
The Indian obiter has beamed home exhaustive data on the polar regions of the earth's nearest astral neighbour. Mini-SAR (mini-synthetic aperture radar), one of the instruments designed and built by American scientists, has provided a first-of-its-kind insight into the darkest, coldest regions of the moon's poles, contributing to a better grasp of the lunar environment. These details will be used as critical inputs to handpick the best place for the station and future landing missions.
"If we discover water ice, and it is close to the poles, it will be another reason for landing in that region," said Dr Ben Bussey, deputy principal investigator, Mini-SAR.
Scientists are keen to sign up the Indian spacecraft as a partner for two American orbiters to peer closer at the lunar surface for water. Dr Bussey had last week discussed the possibility of moving the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Chandrayaan-I close to one another with his counterparts at Isro. "We want Nasa scientists to move the LRO to about 20 km from Chandrayaan-I," an Isro scientist said.