Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Your nameplate on the moon

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 30: Want to have your nameplate put on the moon? Just endorse the international lunar observatory mission and your name will be etched on a plaque to be placed in the south pole of the earth's only natural satellite.
The International Lunar Observatory Association, which is taking up the lunar observatory mission in 2009 to explore the universe from the moon, is seeking endorsement to its moon observatory programme. It promises to put the names of those endorsing its mission, on a plaque to be set up near the observatory site in the moon's south polar region.
The service is absolutely free and the association says the name plaque is as part of encouragement to people to endorse the first-ever lunar observatory to be set up on the moon. Since there's no or limited atmospheric interference on the moon, the lunar observatory will be able to "see" the universe and other planets in a better way. The earth's atmosphere blurs the images and this was precisely the reason behind setting up of the international space telescope.
All one has to do is to visit www.iloa.org, click the endorse link, fill it up and send it to the association. When the observatory is sent to the moon, the list of the endorsers will also be forwarded along with it.
The Association held its preliminary session in Hyderabad during the recent 58th international astronautical congress. A number of countries including India's Isro are providing support to the lunar observatory mission.
Dozens of Hyderabadis have already endorsed the mission thus paving the way for their names to be included in the "lunar" plaque. The International Lunar Observatory is a multi-national, multi-wavelength astrophysical observatory, power station and communications centre that is planned to be operational near the south pole of the lunar surface. The International Lunar Observatory Association supports the ILO and its follow-on missions through timely, efficient and responsible utilisation of human, material and financial resources of space faring nations, enterprises and individuals.
The ILO mission was conceived during the historic International Lunar Conference 2003 (5th meeting of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group. A distinguished panel of lunar scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, advocates and others gathered to discuss the next vital step in human exploration of the moon within the decade. What manifested was the Hawaii Moon Declaration, a one-page “Ad Astra per Luna” manifesto, written and signed by conference participants. Soon after the positive momentum, the ILO mission began to take shape.
An ILO Advisory Committee was established in 2005, consisting of about 50 supporters from the international science, commerce and space agency communities. ALO Association was formed last year. After the Hyderabad preliminary session, the next meeting is scheduled for November 2007 in Hawaii.
Space-faring nations like the USA, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, and Russia are participating in the mission. It also has the direct support within the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics.
Located about 122 kilometres from the Lunar South Pole, the adjacent mare plain just north of the 5-kilometre high “Malapert” Mountain is the intended landing region for the ILO. Near-constant sunlight (thought to be 89 per cent full, four per cent 4 partial) provides an energy-rich environment, and the lunar peak enjoys continuous line-of-sight to Earth and direct Earth-Moon communications.
The mountain dominates its surrounding area for an excellent vantage point and is near enough to expected water ice deposits -- which can be utilised for oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel, around the lunar south pole.
Given these factors, Malapert Mountain is considered to be the most suitable location for the ILO to conduct astronomy and catalyse commercial lunar development and human lunar base build-out. 

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