India to launch Earth's third lunar orbiter, stuffed to the gills with science

India is getting ready to launch it's Chandrayaan-1 lunar spacecraft on Wednesday (guarded by that menacing fellow above), which will be the third lunar orbiter to pay a visit to Earth's natural satellite after China and Japan. The two-year-long, $80 million mission will carry equipment to perform 11 experiments for several countries: five for India; America gets two; and Britain, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria all supplied one apiece.

The orbiter is the work of 1,000 scientists and other personnel, and 4 years worth of labor. It will study the moon's geological and chemical features while trying to discover mineral deposits. And if it does find some promising dig sites? Maybe we can send that slow-but-steady lunar rover to the moon next.

Via The Wall Street Journal