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ASK OCE — August 17, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 12

India has its eye on the moon, and its burgeoning civil space program is collaborating in new ways with the United States.

India’s Chandrayaan-I lunar probe, which is slated for a late 2007 or 2008 mission, will include two U.S. payloads as well as three instruments from European research centers.

In May 2006, the India and the U.S. signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) that finalized plans for cooperation on the Chandrayaan-I lunar probe.

The Chandrayaan I, which literally means “Moon Craft,” is an unmanned lunar mission developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The spacecraft includes a lunar orbiter as well as a Moon Impact Probe. The spacecraft will be launched by a modified version of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The remote-sensing satellite will carry high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near-infrared, soft, and hard X-ray frequencies. In the course of its two-year mission, the craft will survey the lunar surface to discern its chemical characteristics and produce a three-dimensional topography of the surface.

The U.S. payload instruments flying on the spacecraft are the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) and the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR). The scope of the experiments conducted and the sharing of responsibilities and data collected on this mission were determined in the May 2006 memoranda.

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