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Chandrayaan-1 Lunar Orbiter Sensor Activated

By | December 22, 2008

      A water-detecting sensor on the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter launched by India has been activated successfully, Raytheon Co. [RTN] announced.

      NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation told Raytheon the sensor is fully functional.

      That extends Raytheon’s perfect 40-year record of start-up success, the company stated. Data collected during an initial checkout will be used to calibrate the sensor.

      Under contract to the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Raytheon provided the antenna, transmitter, analog receiver and software for the sensor system to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which then integrated the sensor system with the spacecraft. The company also supplied system engineering, integration and test support.

      The main mission of the system is to detect water at depths up to several meters in the frozen regions of the lunar poles. Operational data retrieval will begin several months after initial calibration to allow other on-board optical payloads to take advantage of favorable solar illumination conditions during the early phase of the program.

      Water, H2O, is vital for any extended human presence on the moon. Water can be used for drinking or for growing crops. Also, split into hydrogen and oxygen, astronauts can obtain fuel to generate electricity. As well, hydrogen can be burned in oxygen to heat homes and offices on the moon, and to power lunar vehicles.

      China is expected to send a manned mission to the moon before the end of the next decade.

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