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Kalam fueled India’s dream to touch the moon

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NewsGram Staff Writer

Bengaluru: Indian space agency’s satellite director M Annadurai said, late former president APJ Abdul Kalam was highly influential in making India touch the lunar surface on its maiden mission to moon in November 2008.

Speaking at a seminar held in the memory of Kalam on Friday, he said, “when we made a presentation to President Kalam in 2004 on Chandrayaan-1 mission which was to orbit the moon at 100 km from its surface, he asked us why not land on it when your spacecraft is going that far all the way.”

The lunar project team, headed by Annadurai then, went back to the drawing board and included Kalam’s moon impact probe (MIP) in the mission, keeping in view the spacecraft’s weight and capacity, as it carried 11 scientific instruments on-board for various experiments while orbiting the moon.

“When we told Kalam that his wish has been fulfilled and the 34 kg MIP will land on the lunar surface, he was delighted and congratulated us for turning his wish into a reality,” Annadurai told 300 scientists, engineers and students in presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other dignitaries.

Though Kalam could not be present at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, when the moon mission was launched on October 22, 2008, he was excited to be at its satellite telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) in Bengaluru on November 14 when his “brain child” MIP descended and hit the lunar surface 25 minutes after it was separated from the unmanned spacecraft (Chandrayaan-1) in the lunar orbit.

The landing made India fourth country to accomplish a planned impact of a probe, which had the three colors of the national flag painted on its square shaped box.

Kalam, who was 11th president from 2002 to 2007, was with the space agency from 1969 to 1992 as a rocket specialist and piloted launch of early satellites.

(With inputs from IANS)

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NASA’s Spacecraft Observes Water Molecules Movement on Moon

The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up

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Asteroids
This Dec. 29, 1968, photo made available by NASA shows craters on the moon. For the past 290 million years, giant rocks from space have been crashing into Earth more than twice as often as they did in the previous 700 million years, according to a new study. VOA

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO) spacecraft has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon, a finding that may prove beneficial as the agency plans to put astronauts back on the lunar surface.

Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) — the instrument aboard LRO — measured sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped characterise lunar hydration changes over the course of a day, revealed the paper published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The study is an important step in advancing the water story on the Moon and is a result of years of accumulated data from the LRO mission,” said John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Until the last decade, scientists thought that the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

More recently, they identified surface water in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil, or regolith.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

But, the amount and locations were found to vary based on the time of day. The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up.

Scientists had hypothesised that hydrogen ions in the solar wind may be the source of most of the Moon’s surface water. As a result, when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the “water spigot” should essentially turn off.

However, the water observed by LAMP does not decrease when the Moon is shielded by the Earth and the region influenced by its magnetic field, suggesting water builds up over time, rather than “raining” down directly from the solar wind.

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“These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon,” said lead author Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management; if these materials do not need to be launched from Earth, that makes these future missions more affordable,” Hendrix added. (IANS)