Chandrayaan-1 Joins Search for Lunar Water

NEW DELHI—Indian scientists point to a search for water ice above the moon's north pole, conducted with the United States on 20 August, as a sign that India's lunar craft Chandrayaan-1 is functioning well.

India's first lunar satellite had trouble earlier this year with a fine guidance mechanism. But last week Chandrayaan-1 and the U.S. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, both now orbiting the moon, were brought within 30 kilometers of each other. Then they synchronously beamed their radars at the Erlanger crater, which is permanently shaded from sunlight, to look for evidence of water.

It was "a unique and complex experiment performed with precision," says G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization in Bangalore. Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, principal investigator for radar instruments on both spacecraft, says "we will soon have an abundance of data." Finding water is the key for future colonization of the moon.