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Nov 15, 2008 at 10:14am IST

India touches the moon, MIP crashlands

New Delhi:India on Friday became the fourth nation to have its flag flying on the Moon's surface when Chandrayaan-1's Moon Impact Probe device, - which has the Indian Tricolour painted on it - touched down.

The 35-kilo payload crash-landed on the lunar surface at around 2030 hrs IST. The MIP has started sending its first signals to the satellite.

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It also contains equipment which will help scientists design a lunar lander or rover for the upcoming Chandrayaan-2 mission.

There's a lot tucked away inside the MIP. There's a device to constantly check its height as it falls, another to check what the air on the moon is made of and even a video camera to photograph the moon from close range.

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Those photographs will help ISRO decide where to land India's first moon rover, a few years from now. The MIP also has the Indian flag painted on its sides a Sanskrit shloka as well.

The MIP disconnected from Chandrayaan at 100 km from the moon. As it fell, it kept sending information back to the satellite.

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Closer to the surface, rockets were fired to slow down its speed and soften impact.

After 30 min of free fall, the MIP crash-landed on the south pole of moon.

The MIP is the brainchild of former president APJ Abdul Kalam. He said it's his dream to see an Indian astronaut walk the moon.

“The youth of India should consider that encouragement of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth, above and underneath, India will do it,” he said.

'We've given the moon to India'

"We have given the moon to India," a beaming and excited chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G. Madhavan Nair said minutes after the MIP landed. "The moon has been very favourable to us all through. We have travelled all the way to the moon," Nair told a crowded press conference at an ISRO base here as his fellow space scientists applauded.

The MIP has already sent "beautiful images with high resolution of the moon and their analysis will now begin", Nair said.

The around 35-kg MIP with three instruments took the images as it drifted towards the lunar surface detaching from India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 at 8.06 p.m.

The crash landing of the 375 mm x 375 mm x 470 mm MIP, a honeycomb structure carrying a radar altimeter, a video imaging system and a mass spectrometer, raised a cloud of dust that will be analysed by the scientists, yielding a host of data about the composition of the moon.

But well before that, the video imaging system and the mass spectrometer had obtained data that will enable the scientists to analyse if the moon has water, if it has anything that can be used as fuel for nuclear fusion, hopefully even the age of the moon.

Scientists at ISRO waited impatiently for the first batch of data sent by the MIP to Chandrayaan-1, as the spacecraft went behind the moon for an hour after the landing, while orbiting the Earth's natural satellite from 100 km above.

The landing of the MIP comes 50 years after the first man-made object landed on the lunar surface. The other countries that landed probes on the moon are the former USSR, the US and China.

(With inputs from IANS)

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