Scientists to review India’s moon mission saga

September 6th, 2009 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO Bangalore, Sep 6 (IANS) Top European and American space scientists will join their Indian counterparts here Monday to review the performance of India’s maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-1 that was aborted prematurely last week, a senior space agency official said Sunday.
“Scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences will review the performance of their payloads (scientific instruments) that were onboard the spacecraft along with our payloads,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS.

Chandrayaan was launched Oct 22, 2008 from spaceport Sriharikota, about 90 km northeast of Chennai, with 11 scientific instruments, including three from ESA, two from NASA and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five were from the Indian space agency ISRO.

“At the day-long closed-door review meeting, to be presided over by ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair, the scientists of the respective space agencies will present the results, consisting of data, pictures and analysis for a detailed discussion of the 10-month-old mission, which had scientific and technology objectives,” Satish said.

The meeting, however, will not go into the reasons for terminating the mission abruptly Aug 30 after repeated attempts to restore communication link with the spacecraft by the space agency’s telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) here failed.

“The review meeting was fixed in June after the critical star sensor onboard the spacecraft was burnt due to excessive solar radiation April 26 and its lunar orbit was raised to 200 km on May 19 from 100 km away from the moon’s surface. By then, about 95 percent of the mission’s objectives were accomplished,” Satish pointed out.

The ESA’s three payloads were the imaging x-ray spectrometer (C1XS), the smart infrared spectrometer (SIR-2) and sub kiloelectronvolt (keV) atom reflecting analyzer (SARA).

Similarly, the US payloads were the 6.5kg mini synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) and the moon mineralogy mapper (M3).

The lone Bulgarian payload was the radiation dose monitor (RADOM).

The five Indian payloads were the terrain mapping camera (TMC), the hyper spectral imager (HySI), the lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI), the high energy x-ray spectrometer (HEX) and the moon impact probe (MIP).

“We have achieved the technology objectives of the mission by flying the spacecraft 400,000km to the moon, inserting into the lunar orbit and placing the Indian tricolour on the lunar surface Nov 14 without hitch,” Satish noted.

Similarly, the scientific objectives such as the chemical and mineralogical mapping of the lunar surface using sophisticated sensors, conducting high-resolution remote-sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared, low-energy and high energy x-ray regions and three dimensional atlas of the near and far sides of the moon were accomplished.

“We have received excellent data from all the 11 instruments and the scientific community and the international agencies participating in the mission are very happy with the quality of the data,” Satish said.

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