NASA returns to the moon -- sort of

Oct. 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Two U.S. space agency lunar mapping instruments will be aboard Chandrayaan-1 during India's maiden moon voyage.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said its Moon Mineralogy Mapper will assess mineral resources and its Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar will map the lunar polar regions looking for ice deposits.

The Indian Space Research Organization is scheduled to launch its robotic Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft Wednesday from Sriharikota, India.

"The opportunity to fly NASA instruments on Chandrayaan-1 undoubtedly will lead to important scientific discoveries," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said. "This exciting collaboration represents an important next step in what we hope to be a long and mutually beneficial relationship with India in future civil space exploration."

NASA said the spacecraft, which will also carry four instruments from Europe, will be launched into a lunar polar orbit for a two-year mission.

In addition to the two science instruments, NASA said it will provide space communications support to Chandrayaan-1.

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