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India Puts Probe on Moon

India's space agency says its first lunar probe has landed on the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organization says the small unmanned Moon Impact Probe detached from its orbiter and crash-landed as planned on the lunar surface late Friday. The agency called it a "perfect operation."

During the probe's descent, officials say its video camera took and transmitted close-range images of the moon.

The craft will analyze dust samples to support the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft's two-year mission of mapping the moon's surface and what lies beneath it.

The probe's landing came two days after Chandrayaan-1 went into lunar orbit about 100 kilometers above the moon's surface. The spacecraft was launched on October 22 from Sriharikota, near the southeastern city of Chennai.

India is following in the path of its Asian rivals, Japan and China, who have already had spacecraft in orbit around the moon.

Indian officials put the cost of this mission at $79 million. They say it will lay the groundwork for future Indian space expeditions. The space agency has said it wants to launch a manned mission to the moon by 2020, and has also set its sights on Mars.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.