Collaborating on Mission Moon

16 November 2004 | 11:43 Code : 4477 Geoscience events
Even 35 years after Neil Armstrong first put his foot on the moon, the Earth’s natural satellite remains a mystery to man.

Even 35 years after Neil Armstrong first put his foot on the moon, the Earth’s natural satellite remains a mystery to man. As many of its features like its atmosphere, structure, southern pole, water, surface, volcanic and tectonic activities still remain a mystery, efforts have been intensified across the globe to study the lunar set-up. And, since space agencies of various countries, including India, have planned more than six missions to the moon, the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has organised an international conference at Udaipur from November 22-26.

This conference aims at promoting collaboration and co-operation between various space agencies in their endeavour to study the moon. According to sources at PRL, the conference is being organised in the backdrop of various lunar missions planned by the US (Lunar reconnaissance orbiter and Moon Rise), Eupropean space agency (SMART-1), Japanese (Lunar-A and Selene), Chinese (Chang-E) and Indian space agency (Chandrayan-I) by the end of the decade.

While SMART-1 mission has already taken off, Lunar-A is expected to take off by 2005, Selene by 2006, Chandrayan-I by 2007 and Moonrise by 2010. A senior scientist at PRL said, ‘‘Seeing that over six missions to moon have been planned, it’s important ensure that there is no duplication of efforts. So, during the conference, we will try to boost the spirit of co-operation as opposed to the spirit of competition.’’ For this, the nations will be asked to concentrate on developing instruments they specialise in and put them on missions launched by other nations instead of working on a full-fledged mission of their own, said another senior scientist at PRL, adding: ‘‘During the conference, areas of co-operation between space agencies will be discussed. We will also focus on the type of bases and laboratories likely to be set up on the moon in the future. There will be talks on future engineering, robotic, navigational, control requirments of lunar missions, too.’’ The idea of the conference is to supplement and complement efforts made by various space agencies in their understanding of the moon. Over 150 delegates from 15 countries and scientists from agencies like NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Japanese space agency (JAXA), Chinese space agency are expected to participate in the conference. Among notable scientists likely to attend this conference are project directors of all the six lunar missions. The conference will also see over 100 papers persentations and discussion on programmes of various space agencies. A unique programme has been organised for young lunar scientists wherein the future course of lunar exploration, 20 years from now, will be discussed. The international conference will be inaugurated by President A P J Abdul Kalam.

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