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USRA Scientist Principal Investigator for MiniSAR Instrument on India's Chandrayaan-1 Lunar Mission

Press Release From: Universities Space Research Association
Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008

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The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is proud to announce the participation of Dr. Paul Spudis, a noted US planetary geologist with the USRA Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, as Principal Investigator (PI) for the team that designed and built one of two US instruments flown on the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-1 Lunar mission. Dr. Spudis is PI of the team (headed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Research Laboratory and the US Navy) that designed and built the Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) instrument - an imaging radar that will map the poles of the moon. Using the fact that radar provides its own illumination, MiniSAR will map the dark areas near the lunar poles and search for evidence of the presence of water ice. "This has been a controversial area of investigation for the last decade," explained LPI Director Dr. Stephen Mackwell, "The inclusion of the MiniSAR instrument in the Chandrayaan-1 mission will allow us to collect information on these deposits by mapping them from an instrument in lunar orbit - a first in the exploration of the moon."

The Chandrayaan-1 mission, which launched successfully on October 22 from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), will put the unmanned Chandrayaan spacecraft into orbit around the moon and use an 11 instrument package carried on the spacecraft to conduct mineralogical and chemical mapping of the lunar surface. This mapping will be achieved through high-resolution remote sensing in the visible, near infrared, microwave, and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The result of Chandrayaan's 2 year mission will be a 3-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface as well as the chemical and mineralogical mapping.

"We are very proud of Dr. Spudis' participation as Principal Investigator on the MiniSAR team," said USRA CEO and President, Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino, "This is an outstanding example of the type of collaborative scientific effort that is absolutely critical to the future of space science and exploration and is an important part of USRA's overall mission."

About the LPI

The Lunar and Planetary Institute, a division of the Universities Space Research Association, was established during the Apollo missions to foster international collaboration and to serve as a repository for information gathered during the early years of the space program. Today the LPI is an intellectual leader in lunar and planetary science.

About USRA

The Universities Space Research Association, established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 102 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.

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