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India hires american geologist for moon mapping mission

An American geologist, Carle Pieters has been selected by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as an investigator for Chandrayaan-I, which is scheduled for take off in late 2007. The mission aims to “unlock the mysteries” of the moon.

A Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Pieters will lead a team of US scientists to map the mineral composition of the moon through the state-of-the-art Moon Mineralogy Mapper, called M3, and referred to as ‘M-cube’. The team includes scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and various US universities.

An official announcement about the ISRO-NASA collaboration on Chandrayaan-I, would be made after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries, Pieters said.

Pieters, who specialises in lunar evolution, and is considered a pioneer in the field of remote compositional analysis of lunar regions, said once the MoU was signed, the M-cube would be shipped to India for installation onboard Chandrayaan-I.

Identifying the moon as a cornerstone to understanding the early evolution of the solar system, Pieters claimed the M3 high-resolution compositional maps would dramatically improve scientists’ understanding of the early evolution of the terrestrial planets. This would provide assessment of lunar resources at high spatial resolution, she said. The M3 would also identify and assess the deposits containing volatiles, including water, and map fresh craters to assess properties of impacts in the recent past.