Chandrayaan - Mission Moon

All about Indian Mission to Moon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Towards a manned space flight after the successful moon mission

India’s successful maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 has given a big boost to the ambitious plan of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to undertake a manned flight by 2015.

The latest Annual Report of the Indian Space Department says that India’s manned flight programme envisages the development of a fully autonomous orbital vehicle capable of carrying the crew members.

The Indian manned capsule which is expected to weigh up to 4 tonnes is being planned to be launched by means of the heavy lift-off GSLV (MK-III) vehicle now.

It is being envisaged that an advanced astronaut training facility will be set up by ISRO in collaboration with the Bangalore-based Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM) for the training of astronauts. The training centre will cover 100 acres will be set up on the outskirts of Bangalore.

The follwing main facilities would form the part of this  training centre are a radiation simulation chamber to help astronauts handle radiation from the sun; a centrifuge to enable manoeuvers in space, a zero gravity simulator as well as hardware designed to train astronauts fly their spaceship.

The final approval of this Rs 12, 0000-million manned flight programme is awaited from the Union Government.

A third launch pad will be developed to have the facilities such as crew escape module. Meanwhile, it has been planned that two Indians will fly onboard a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station (ISS) before the indian manned mission. For this, India and Russia have already set up a joint working team to study the finer details of training and flying Indian astronauts.

It is envisaged that the selected astronaut candidates will be trained in the Russian Star City and this exercise will help India gain an insight into the intricacies of astronaut training.

ISRO believes that India’s manned space flight is a crucial step towards the future plans to ISRO to send a man to moon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Video of the moon from Chandrayaan

What you see here is the first video of the moon, and was taken by the terrain mapping camera of Chandrayaan. The short video was shot as the spacecraft flew over the area near the moon's south polar region.

ISRO officials are gung-ho about the terrain mapping camera, built by the agency's Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, which they say has been beaming back amazing pictures of moon's surface from its orbit 100 km above the lunar surface

On November 14, the Moon Impact Probe had sent back photographs of the moon's surface even as it detached from the Chandrayaan and hurtled towards the lunar surface.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 gets back to work

A day after landing India’s first probe instrument on the surface of the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was on Saturday getting ready to activate eight other scientific instruments on board the country’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1 that is now orbiting the moon and will do so for the next two years.

The box-shaped 35-kg moon impact probe (MIP), with the colours of the Indian flag painted on its four sides, touched down on the lunar surface at 8.31 p.m. Friday. It has sent high quality images of the moon taken while descending the 100 km to its destination after detaching from Chandrayaan-1.

The primary objective of landing the MIP was to demonstrate the technologies required for landing a probe at a designated location. Through this probe, it is also intended to qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions. MIP has been developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, a unit of ISRO.

“We are analysing the images and other data sent by MIP. We are also getting ready to switch on and test the remaining eight payloads (scientific instruments) of the spacecraft in the coming few days,” an ISRO spokesperson said on Saturday. “We have not yet decided the dates and timing to carry out this exercise but it will be pretty soon,” the spokesperson said.

The MIP is the third of the eleven payloads that has begun functioning. Earlier the Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) were switched on while Chandrayaan-1 was on its way to the moon, around 384,000 km from Earth. The payloads on Chandrayaan-1 include five entirely designed and developed in India, three instruments from European Space Agency (one developed jointly with India and another with Indian contribution), one from Bulgaria and two from the US.

The Indian payloads include a terrain mapping camera (TMC) to map the lunar topography, capturing black and white 3-D images. It can also photograph a 20 km-wide strip of the lunar surface from as close as five metres.
Chandrayaan-1 will use high resolution remote sensing in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to map the moon. It will enable preparation of a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and help map it chemically.

Such high resolution imaging would help in better understanding the process of lunar evolution. Used with data from lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI), it can help in better understanding of its gravitational field as well.
The camera has been built by Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad.
The Hyperspectral Imager (HySI), another camera built by SAC, is designed to obtain data for mapping minerals on the lunar surface as well as for understanding the mineralogical composition its interior.

The LLRI will provide data for determining the accurate altitude of Chandrayaan-1 above the lunar surface. Data from LLRI will also enable understanding internal structure of the moon and the way large surface features of the moon have changed with time. It has been built by the ISRO Lab for Electro Optic Systems (LEOS), Bangalore.

Chandrayaan-1 will use a High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (HEX) to carry out the first spectral studies of ‘hard’ X-ray energies using good energy resolution detectors. HEX is designed to help explore the possibility of identifying polar regions covered by thick water-ice deposits as well as in identifying regions of high uranium and thorium concentrations. HEX is built jointly by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) of Ahmedabad and ISRO.

The foreign payloads include C1XS of European Space Agency for high quality x-ray spectroscopic mapping of the moon, Near Infra Red spectrometer (SIR-2) of Germany and ESA, Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) from ESA in collaboration with ISRO, Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) and Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) from the United States and RADOM of Bulgaria.

India emerging as major space power

India has successfully placed its flag on the lunar, becoming the fourth nation to have done so.

The Indian Space Research Organisation, which was formed merely 36 years ago, is now catching up with its American, French, and Russian counterparts. ISRO really has end-to-end capabilities in space.

Few know that it already has several world records to its credit and in times to come will be able to give other nations a run for their money in the commercial operations as well.

India's maiden moon mission has been a blazing success.

First images of the pristine lunar surface taken by the Indian impact probe as it dashed to the lunar surface at over 6000 kilometers per hour, or at about ten times the speed of Jumbo Jet are stunning. It's not easy to take photos on a dashing suicide mission.

The Chandrayaan Mission also has many firsts to its credit.

This satellite carries the largest suite of scientific instruments ever to be carried to the moon, 14 in all.

At Rs 386 crores, it is the cheapest moon mission of the 21st century. It is an Indian mission with 14 countries as international partners.

No country till date has been able to achieve successfully both an orbiter and a lander on its maiden mission.

Indian scientists have reasons to rejoice, and applauding them is also the world community.
"This indeed is a world record, no other country has carried so many instruments to the moon in a single satellite, all top of the line," said Dr Alok Chatterjee, project engineer, NASA.

The Indian space agency also has other world records to its credit for its rocketry and satellites.

By launching 10 satellites in a single shot, ISRO created a world record in April 2008. India today has the largest constellation of civilian remote sensing satellites in the world, nine in all.

With 11 communication and weather satellites India's fleet in space is the largest in the Asia Pacific region.

India is the first country to be successful in its maiden moon venture and the first to wishfully land a probe on the lunar pole.

By effectively delivering the Chandrayaan satellite with just no time or cost over runs, ISRO really is a shining example of what India can do.

India is indeed emerging as major power house for space exploration and with this string of success behind it ISRO is certainly ready to conquer the next big unknown frontier and make that giant leap to Mars and beyond.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indian tricolour on destination moon

India’s maiden moon probe crashed on to the lunar surface at 8.31 p.m. Friday, sending a wealth of data to its mother spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 during the 25 minutes of its useful life. India became the fourth country to send a probe to the moon.The moon impact probe (MIP), which has the Indian tricolour painted on its four sides, will remain for all time to come on the Shackleton Crater region of the lunar south pole. It will never corrode due to the lack of atmosphere on the moon.

“We have given the moon to India,” a beaming and excited chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G. Madhavan Nair said minutes after the MIP landed. “The moon has been very favourable to us all through. We have travelled all the way to the moon,” Nair told a crowded press conference at an ISRO base here as his fellow space scientists applauded.

The MIP has already sent “beautiful images with high resolution of the moon and their analysis will now begin”, Nair said.

The around 35-kg MIP with three instruments took the images as it drifted towards the lunar surface detaching from India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 at 8.06 p.m.

The crash landing of the 375 mm x 375 mm x 470 mm MIP, a honeycomb structure carrying a radar altimeter, a video imaging system and a mass spectrometer, raised a cloud of dust that will be analysed by the scientists, yielding a host of data about the composition of the moon.

But well before that, the video imaging system and the mass spectrometer had obtained data that will enable the scientists to analyse if the moon has water, if it has anything that can be used as fuel for nuclear fusion, hopefully even the age of the moon.

Scientists at ISRO waited impatiently for the first batch of data sent by the MIP to Chandrayaan-1, as the spacecraft went behind the moon for an hour after the landing, while orbiting the Earth’s natural satellite from 100 km above.

The landing of the MIP comes 50 years after the first man-made object landed on the lunar surface. The other countries that landed probes on the moon are the former USSR, the US and China.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chandrayaan-II will be launched in 2012, says Nair

ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair got a royal welcome at the Sathyabhama Deemed University, which is hosting an international conference in space technology. Posters dotting the campus bore pictures of a victorious looking Dr Nair with the slogan, "He is a great hero, India and abroad." A sign, perhaps, of how India's lunar mission Chandrayaan has captured the imagination of the youth and upped Isro's brand value. Dr Nair, instead, focuses on the relevance of Isro's future missions, its challenges and the management lessons that India Inc could glean from the state-run space agency. ET caught up with Dr Nair a day before the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) is ejected from the Chandrayaan satellite, following which the Indian flag will crash land on the moon, literally! Excerpts:

Can Chandrayaan be termed a complete success when the MIP lands?

No, it will still amount to 95% success since we have to map the moon’s surface for the next year and a half. Mineral mapping and surface feature mapping will be paramount. We can gauge 100% success only after that. The MIP has been scheduled for Friday evening, but we haven't slotted a time yet.

How are the Chandrayaan-II, solar and Mars missions progressing?

Chandrayaan-II will be launched in 2012. We will have a lander (a space vehicle that is designed to land) on it and will drop a small robot on the moon. The robot will pick up samples and analyse and send the data back. For the solar mission, a satellite called Adithya will study solar emissions and its influence. The design has been completed and the launch will happen within two years. We are also going ahead with the study on the Mars mission.

What’s the need of a Rs 12,000-crore human space flight?

We cannot be lagging behind in our capability to access space. China, the US and Japan are going ahead with huge plans for space exploration. There are some processes involved and we will get the government’s approval consequently. The manned mission is slated for 2015.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chandrayaan-I reaches its final resting orbit

India's unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 on Wednesday successfully entered the operational lunar orbit after ISRO scientists carried out final orbit reduction manoeuvre, lasting one minute.

The craft is now at a circular orbit of 102 km above the moon's surface, ISRO spokesperson S Satish said.

It is expected to be trimmed to 100 km — the final circular orbit of Chandrayaan-1 — tomorrow, he said.

On November 9, India became the fifth member of the global moon club with Chandrayaan-1 entering the lunar orbit at 5.04 pm (IST). The other four members are the US, Russia (former Soviet Union), Japan, China and members of European Space Agency (ESA).

According to Isro officials, Chandrayaan's liquid engine was fired for 817 seconds when the spacecraft passed at a distance of about 500 km from the moon to reduce its velocity to enable the lunar gravity to capture it around the moon. Chandrayaan's speed was reduced to 366 metres per second when it flew into the moon's orbit.

Experts said it was a significant feat because India's moonshot was successful in the very first attempt — something that even major space powers like the US and Russia could not achieve. The man who launched the Indian moon mission, Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, had said, "It's undoubtedly a great moment for India because nearly 50% of the moon missions of other countries have not been successful."

Chandrayaan-1, the two-year Rs 386 crore Indian moon mission launched from Sriharikota on October 22, will draw a three-dimensional map of the moon, carrying out its chemical mapping and hunting for water or ice.

Kasturirangan said the lunar orbit insertion (LOI) was a nail-biting moment because two objects — the moon and Chandrayaan — moving at a high speed had to have a successful rendezvous. At a certain point, the gravity of moon and that of earth cancel each other out, making LOI very challenging.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chandrayaan 1 within 500 km of the moon

Chandrayaan 1 - India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft, moved closer to the moon today, when it broke free from it elliptical orbit around the earth, speeding into deep space towards the moon. This was disclosed by a top space agency official.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS yesterday, "The liquid apogee motor (LAM) on board will be fired around 5.00 a.m. Tuesday for about five minutes to make the transition and position the spacecraft at about 500 km from the moon's surface and over 3,84,000 km away from the earth."

These complex maneuvers were carried out from the spacecraft's control room at ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) in coordination with the deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, which is about 40 km from Bangalore.

"Additional velocity will be given to the spacecraft to enter the lunar orbit Saturday (Nov 8) for a rendezvous with the moon. With calibrated firing of its LAMs, it will be inserted into its designated orbit, which will be about 100 km from the lunar surface.

In the present orbit, Chandrayaan has taken six days to go round the earth once. The spacecraft performance is being monitored closely and its health parameters are normal," said Mr. Satish.

As you may all be aware, Chandrayaan-1 has been orbiting the earth in an elliptical orbit at 2,67,000 km apogee (farthest point from earth) and 465 km perigee (nearest point to earth) since 29 October.

It was launched on 22 October on board the 316-tonne PSLV-C11 from Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport off the Andhra Pradesh coast, 80 km north of Chennai. We will keep you posted for more news about the Chandrayaan, so keep watching this space.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 doing well, sending back images

an initial elliptical orbit around the Earth by PSLV-C11 on October 22, 2008. This was followed by four orbit raising manoeuvres, which together raised Chandrayaan-1's orbit to a much higher altitude. The spacecraft is now circling the Earth in an orbit whose apogee (farthest point to Earth) lies at 267,000 km (Two lakh sixty seven thousand km) and perigee (nearest point to Earth) at 465 km. In this orbit, Chandrayaan-1 takes about six days to go round the Earth once. The spacecraft performance is being continuously monitored and is normal.

Once in GTO, Chandrayaan's on-board motor will be fired to increase its orbit around the earth. The orbit will be raised five times till it reaches 1,019 km perigee and 386,194 km apogee from the Earth on 8 November.

This orbit will take the spacecraft to the vicinity of the moon. The spacecraft will rotate for about five-and-a-half days before firing the engine to slow its velocity for moon's gravity to capture it. As the spacecraft approaches the moon, its speed will be reduced to enable the gravity of the moon to capture it into an elliptical orbit. A series of engine burns will then lower its orbit to its intended 100 km circular polar orbit. Following this, the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) will be ejected from Chandrayaan-1 and all the scientific instruments/payloads are commissioned.

Chandrayaan-1 completed four orbits around the Earth, on 23 October: "The health of the spacecraft is normal and (it is) doing fine. Spinning in elliptical orbit once in every 6 hours and 30 minutes, it has completed four orbits and is in the fifth orbit."

The successful launch of India's maiden unmanned mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I could throw new light on the formation of Earth's natural satellite. This is one of the main reasons why all the scientists in the country are excited about the launch.

A popular theory about the moon's formation is that a collision between Mars and Earth threw up a large amount of debris which later became the moon.

"Now with the unmanned mission to the moon, scientists will be able to test this theory by mapping the moon," said Dipankar Bhattacharya, astronomer at the Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Pune.

Orbiting mission

Explaining how this moon mission is different from earlier ones, Bhattacharya said, "The earlier missions were landing missions. The problem with the landing mission is one can investigate only a specific area. But this is an orbiting mission where the entire topography of the moon will be mapped for two years."

Chandrayaan-I, with 11 payloads, one of the most heavily loaded lunar missions, is unique as it will try to map high resolution 3-D topography of the moon's surface, get mineral composition of the same, investigate the presence or absence of water and the chemical composition of the Earth's satellite.

Chandrayaan-I would establish India's credentials as a leader in space technology, including indigenous development of powerful launch vehicles and spacecraft.

With the successful launch of Chandrayaan-I, India now has joined an exclusive club of nations including the US, former Soviet Union, European Space Agency, China and Japan to have sent missions to the moon.

The spacecraft was put into orbit exactly 18.2 minutes after its launch at 6.22 am from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota. At Rs 386 crore, the Indian mission is considered to be the cheapest in the world, which will help generate the first-ever comprehensive maps of the earth's only natural satellite.