Moon: Search on for unanswered questions

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Sriharikota, Oct 22 (UNI) Moon, the nearest celestial body to Earth and the only natural satellite of the planet, became the prime target for exploration after the dawn of the Space Age in 1957.

''Soviet Luna 2'' was the first to hit the lunar surface in September 1959 and ''Luna 3'' took the photographs of the far side of the Moon and transmitted them to Earth.

In 1966, ''Luna 9'' gently landed on the lunar surface.

In the late 60s and early 70s, Soviet spacecraft brought back small soil and rock samples from the Moon and landed Lunakhod-1 and 2 robotic vehicles on the lunar surface.

Also during the 1960s, unmanned American Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft conducted detailed exploration of the Moon, which was followed by successful human landing on the moon in Apollo Spacecraft during 1969-72.

But for India, its dream Moon Mission, though unmanned, has at last became a reality today when PSLV-C11 successfully launched Chandrayaan-1 from the SHAR Range.

India's mission to Moon comes at a time when there has been a renaissance of lunar explorations and with results from unmanned spacecraft missions suggesting the possibility of presence of water ice in the lunar polar regions.

Since formation and evolution of Moon are important for understanding the history of solar system, Moon was the only world, other than the Earth, where humans had set their foot.

Though several unmanned and manned missions to the Moon have provided wealth of information of scientific value, there are still several secrets which the Moon is yet to reveal, like details about mineralogy, presence of Helium-3 (a clean fuel for the future nuclear fusion reactors which is yet to be quantified) and the presence of water in the permanently shadowed regions of the Moon's polar areas.

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