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India is triumphant at the role played by its inaugural moon mission in helping gather evidence that there is water on the moon. Indian scientists hope the latest discovery will bring international recognition to its space program.
The announcement that there is evidence of water on the moon has been made by the U.S. space agency, NASA, after data from their instruments on board an Indian satellite and two other satellites was analyzed.
The unmanned Indian spacecraft, Chandrayan, was launched to orbit the moon last October by the Indian space agency, but the mission was terminated last month after scientists lost communication with the satellite.
However, data gathered before the Chandrayan mission was aborted has shown that very fine films of water particles coat the particles that make up the lunar surface. Scientists say it is not enough moisture for homegrown life on the moon but if it were to be processed in mass quantities it might provide drinking water for future moon-dwellers.
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The head of India's space agency, G. Madhavan Nair, called it a "path breaking find" and said that Indians should be proud of the fact that Chandrayan played a role in the discovery.
"I am proud to announce that our Chandrayan I has confirmed presence of water molecules on the surface of the moon," he said. "One of the main objectives of Chandrayan was to look for water on the lunar surface. The instruments, especially the mineral mapping instrument of NASA has caught the signature very clearly. "
Nair said the Indian satellite had helped point the NASA-made instrument to the right location and the right spot.
Indian scientists say the latest discovery shows that the country's inaugural moon mission was a huge success and not a failure even though it was prematurely terminated.
Indian newspapers also greeted India's role in the find. The leading daily Times of India called it a "One Big Step for India, Giant Leap for Mankind."
Finding evidence of water on the moon is seen by scientists as a key step in enabling mankind to set up bases on the moon for further probes. Until now they had advanced the theory that the moon is dry.
Scientists say further studies will be needed to establish the quantity and quality of water on the moon.
India has been scaling up its space program in recent years, wanting to join other major space faring nations like USA, Russia and China. And the role it has played in establishing the presence of water on the moon is seen as a significant advance for its space program.