Moon surface created with Salem soil

Chennai: The Indian space agency has done some hard work on the ground so that its moon lander -- Vikram -- can soft-land safely and rover -- Pragyaan -- can move around, said a senior retired official.

"The surface of the earth and that of the moon are entirely different. So we had to create an artificial moon surface and test our rover and lander," M. Annadurai, who retired as Director, U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), formerly ISRO Satellite Centre told IANS.

The moon's surface is covered with craters, rocks and dust and its soil is of different texture as compared to earths.

Annadurai said the legs of lander and wheels of the rover had to be tested before their flight.While moon light dinners are known for the human beings, Indian space agency created moon light environment for testing its rover.

Importing lunar soil like substance from the US was a costly affair and ISRO looked for a local solution as its need was about 60/70 ton of soil.Many geologists had told ISRO that near Salem in Tamil Nadu there were "anorthosite" rocks that would be similar to features of moon soil or regolith. The ISRO finalised to take the "anorthosite" rocks from Sithampoondi and Kunnamalai villages in Tamil Nadu for moon soil.

According to Annadurai, the rocks were crushed to the required size and moved to Bengalure where its Lunar Terrain Test Facility was located and the test bed created.