Countries race to launch moon missions

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Hyderabad, Sep 27 (UNI) Even as India has programmed to have its maiden mission to the Moon in early 2008, China is all set to probe the moon mission later this year, opening avenues for international collaboration and coordination between space agencies and countries.

''China will send Chang'e 1 to probe the moon with six scientific instruments by the end of the year. In the first phase, we will learn about the moon and in the next phase, live on the moon by 2020. Collaborating with Russia, we will also launch a Mars mission by October 2009, its Spokesman Ji Wu said.

Japan, which had successfully launched Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) probe through its H-2A rocket from Tanegashima, planned to undertake human lunar exploration by the year 2015, while England programmed to have a permanent outpost on the Moon by 2020 and undertake a Mars mission by 2013.

These were revealed at a session ''recent results on global exploration, strategy and future lunar and inter-planetary missions'' at the ongoing 58th International Astronautical Congress here.

When India launches its unmanned Chandrayaan-1 mission next year, the NASA, which would not go to the Moon till 2018 again, would provide Moon Minerology Mapper and the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar and continue its research on the satellite.

The European Space Agency (ESA) would support three Chandrayaan-1 mission instruments -- an X-ray spectrometre, the SARA atom reflecting analyser and the SIR-2 near-infrared spectrometre -- and provide hardware support for the High-Energy X-ray (HEX) spectrometre.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokesman Motokoiicitomi said SELENE's mission involved placing the main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 60 miles and deployed the two smaller satellites in polar orbits. Researchers would study the moon's origin and evolution.

China's Chang'e 1 orbiter would use stereo cameras and X-ray spectrometres to map three-dimensional images of the lunar surface and study its dust, Mr Wu said.

UNI

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