Tuesday, October 21, 2008

'Chandrayaan could spark lunar land grab'

India's lunar mission could spark off a land grab on the Moon, a British paper speculated on Tuesday. (From India Today, Oct. 21) The Chandrayaan (Lunar Orbiter) signals the "possibility of a race for mineral wealth on the lunar surface", particularly helium-3, The Guardian newspaper reported.

While planet Earth was believed to have only 15 tonnes of helium-3, the Moon is thought to contain up to five million tonnes.

The report quoted Udupi Ramachandra Rao, former director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as saying that the Moon might have "enough (helium-3) to produce energy for 8,000 years".

The head of China's lunar exploration project had told the China Daily in 2006 that "each year three space shuttle missions could bring enough (helium-3) for all human beings across the world".

The paper said current ISRO officials are, however, tight-lipped over the prospects of a race for lunar minerals.