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A mission to map the moon using an orbiting satellite has begun.

The Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft has begun to orbit the moon coming as close as 500km. In the future it is expected to come within 100km where it will map the moon for 2 years.

The mission will compile a 3D atlas of the lunar surface and map the distribution of elements and minerals.

Powered by a single solar panel generating about 700 Watts, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) probe carries five Indian-built instruments and six constructed in other countries, including the US, Britain and Germany.

The Indian experiments include a 30kg probe that will be released from the mothership to slam into the lunar surface.

The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) will record video footage on the way down and measure the composition of the Moon's tenuous atmosphere.

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