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NASA partners India on moon mission; faces budget cuts in 2009

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Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008. File PTI photo

HOUSTON (PTI): American space agency NASA, partnered India in its first moon mission 'Chandrayaan' in 2008, a venture that is contributing to the agency's increased understanding of the lunar environment.

The partnership came in the golden anniversary year of NASA, even as financial crunch cast a shadow over its mission of space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

NASA partnered with India to fly two instruments aboard the country's first lunar explorer, Chandrayaan-1, which was successfully launched by the ISRO on October 22 and entered the lunar orbit on November 8.

In the 'Moon Mineralogy Mapper', NASA planted aboard the Indian mission an instrument that surveys mineral resources of the moon, while the 'Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar' is mapping the moon's polar regions and looking for ice deposits in the permanently shadowed craters.

Data from the two instruments is contributing to NASA's increased understanding of the lunar environment as the agency implements the nation's space exploration policy, which calls for robotic and human missions to the moon.

Besides taking part in the lunar science mission with India, NASA during 2008 landed on Mars, photographed distant worlds, added to the International Space Station and made major progress towards returning astronauts to the moon.

Meanwhile on Earth, NASA researchers recorded the continued decline of Arctic sea ice, won awards for aviation breakthroughs, discovered the cause of storms that brighten the Northern Lights and helped create state-of-the-art swimsuits worn by Olympic gold medallists.

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