India launches its first lunar mission

ISRO, Lunar Mapping Add comments

At 06:22 IST Wednesday morning India successfully launched its first lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1.  Riding on top of a PSLV-11C rocket the spacecraft was inserted in a orbit around the Earth, before it will start its trip towards the Moon. It will be inserted in a Moon orbit in two weeks, and then gradually lower its final altitude to 100 km.

When the final orbit is reached Chandrayaan-1’s main task will be to:

  • To place an unmanned spacecraft in an orbit around the moon
  • To conduct mineralogical and chemical mapping of the lunar surface
  • To upgrade the technological base in the country

Chandrayaan-1 aims to achieve its objectives through high-resolution remote sensing of moon in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions. Finally, the preparation of a 3-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface and chemical and mineralogical mapping of entire lunar surface is envisaged.

The instruments that will perform these tasks are (1 through 5 are from India, the remaining are from international partners):

  1. Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC), a CCD camera that maps the topography of the moon, which helps in better understanding of the lunar evolution process.
  2. Hyperspectral Imager (HySI), another CCD camera, is designed for mapping of the minerals on the lunar surface as well as for understanding the mineralogical composition of Moon’s interior.
  3. Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI) provides necessary data for accurately determining the height of lunar surface features.
  4. High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (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.
  5. Moon Impact Probe (MIP) demonstrates the technologies required for landing a probe at the desired location on the moon. It is also intended to qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions.
  6. Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X ray Spectrometer (C1XS), an ESA payload and jointly developed by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory of England and ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, intends is to carry out high quality mapping of the moon using X-ray fluorescence technique for finding the presnce of Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Iron and Titanium distributed over the surface of the Moon.
  7. Smart Near Infrared Spectrometer (SIR-2), another ESA payload, developed by Max Plank Institute of Germany, aims to study the lunar surface to explore the mineral resources and the formation of its surface features.
  8. Sub kiloelectronvolt Atom Reflecting Analyser (SAR), the third payload from ESA, is built by Swedish Institute of Space Physics and Space Physics Laboratory of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Tiruvananthapuram. The aim of this instrument is to study the surface composition of the moon and the magnetic anomalies associated with the surface of the moon.
  9. Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM), a payload developed by Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, aims to characterise the radiation environment in a region of space surrounding the moon.
  10. Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) is one of the two scientific instruments from the USA and is from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and Naval Air Warfare Centre, USA through NASA. MiniSAR is mainly intended for detecting water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles up to a depth of a few meters.
  11. Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) is an imaging spectrometer from Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US through NASA, is intended to assess and map lunar mineral resources at high spatial and spectral resolution.

 

The event has generated interest worldwide, and has been widely reported in the international press:

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