Indian soil may have reached Moon on crashed Israeli lander

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Indian soil may have reached Moon on crashed Israeli lander
Indian soil may have reached Moon on crashed Israeli lander

New Delhi : Months before Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to land on the Moon, it has been learned that a tiny sample of Indian soil may have already reached the planet.

On February 21, an Israeli lunar lander called Beresheet (Hebrew for ‘the beginning’) began its journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX rocket in its quest to be the first privately-funded spacecraft to land on the Moon. A month later, it was reported, Beresheet had crash-landed and was irredeemably broken except, for a curious, quirky payload called the Lunar Library.

Nova Spivack, co-founder of AMF, told The Hindu that the Lunar Library contained a small sample from the Bodhi tree in India, along with material on learning Hindi, Urdu and information on music.

“The management of Mahabodhi stupa (Bihar) privately gave me a leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat. These were included,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We mixed these with relics from saints and yogis, as well as earth from sacred caves and tiny bits of relics from India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Tibet.”

The first microbes on the Moon are those left behind in the human faeces from the astronauts aboard the Apollo missions of 1968-1972.

That these life-forms were part of the Lunar library was deliberately kept a “secret,” said Mr. Spivack. “We kept it secret for obvious reasons. However we haven’t violated any provisions of the Outer Space Treaty.” The treaty is a global, United Nations-backed agreement that bars countries from pursuing actions that could “harmfully contaminate” outer space including the Moon.

“It is believed that the Lunar Library survived the crash of Beresheet and is intact on the Moon according to our team of scientific advisors based on imagery data provided by NASA,” AMF said in a statement.