29 November 2010
India on the moon
RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, welcomes Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, flanked by Professor Suresh Bhargava (left) and Professor Muthupandian Ashokkumar, School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne.
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At a time when the US is slowing down its space exploration, India is forging ahead with a second space mission after its successful first attempt uncovered water on the moon.
Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, Director of India's moon projects Chandrayaan 1 and 2, presented a public lecture at RMIT University about India's achievements in space, science and technology.
Dr Annadurai, a visiting fellow of the Australia India Institute, discussed the origins of the Indian space program, the journey involved in launching successful space missions and the highlights of India's first mission to the moon.
A team of engineers and scientists led by Dr Annadurai designed and developed the mission which carried out chemical, mineralogical, resource and topographic mapping of the entire lunar surface.
"The analysis of data from the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft provided evidence of the presence of ice deposits near the moon's North Pole in 40 small craters, with sub-surface water ice located at their base. The interior of these craters is in permanent sun shadow," Dr Annadurai said.
"The Indian moon mission should be seen beyond the scientific results it provides as studies have shown that the moon is even more interesting and attractive for scientific exploration than we had previously thought and that it could serve as a source of economic benefit to mankind and certainly be of strategic importance."
The space mission was conducted on a shoestring budget of less than $83 million, much less than Japan and China spent - the only other Asian nations which have launched missions to the moon.
While India's space exploration program has attracted criticism that a developing country should not be wasting money on space missions, Dr Annadurai, who is currently leading the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission, believes the Indian space program aids development.
"India in fact has one of the world's largest constellations for remote sensing and communication satellites which are used for broadcasting, weather forecasting, managing water, ocean and forest resources and disaster management," Dr Annadurai said.
"The Indian Space program's fleet of operational state-of-the-art satellites for country-wide applications supports communications for tele-medicine, tele-education and disaster-warning."
Professor Suresh Bhargava, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor International in RMIT's College of Science, Engineering and Health - master of ceremonies and India on the Moon dinner host - said that Dr Annadurai's visit was an example of RMIT's strong ties with India.
"RMIT has collaborations with the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, National Chemical Laboratory, National Center of Cell Sciences, and the Centre of Converging Technology, Rajasthan University India.
"RMIT's relationship with the Australia India Institute brings opportunities for RMIT's innovative research community to share global ideas with industry and government.
"College of Science, Engineering and Health researchers Professor Kefei Zhang from RMIT's new SPACE Research Centre and Professor Marc Cohen, the Discipline Leader for the Wellness Group, have productively engaged with diverse Australia India Institute stakeholders," Professor Bhargava said.