09/24/2009, 00.00
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India announces water found on the moon

Chandrayaan-1project director Mylswamy Annadurai makes the announcement. Launched in October of last year, the first all-Indian space mission now awaits confirmation from NASA, owner of the water-measuring instrument.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Launched in October of last year India’s maiden Moon mission Chandrayaan-1 has found water on the lunar surface, mission project director Mylswamy Annadurai announced.  Credit for this much-awaited discovery goes to NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), one of the payloads tasked with studying the lunar surface.

In India’s space programme community, the announcement was met with jubilation. In recent years, Indian space scientists have worked hard at spacecraft and satellite research and development.

“This was one of the main objectives of Chandrayaan-1, to find evidence of water on the Moon," Annadurai said.

Although the project was eventually aborted in August ahead of schedule, in the end it appears it was successful.

However, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G. Madhavan Nair is more cautious, waiting for the US space agency NASA to confirm the finding. In fact, Nair said, “I can't confirm the presence of water now. Before the end of this week, we will let you know".

As far back as the 1980s, scientists had theorised that water might be present on the moon, but the Indian finding would be the first evidence proving the theory. For ISRO, it would be a great coup.

India’s space programme has not yet celebrated the first anniversary of the launching Chandrayaan-1 (pictured), the first made-in-India space mission, and a ground-breaking achievement.

In October 2008, when the probe was still on the launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, former ISRO chief G.K. Menon said, “The next step will be sending a manned mission to the moon for which trials have already begun” (see “India’s first lunar probe to take off, seeking water on the moon,” in AsiaNews, 21 October 2008)

In the meantime, as it prepares to send its first astronauts into space, ISRO on Wednesday launched Oceansat-2, India’s second ocean-monitoring satellite, which will study ocean surface phenomena as well as atmospheric aerosols and suspended sediments in the water.

This launch is part of an international mission that includes Germany, Switzerland and Turkey, who own the six nano satellites that were placed in orbit along with Oceansat-2.

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