After India lands probe on moon, focus back on spacecraft

November 15th, 2008 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Nov 15 (IANS) A day after landing India’s first probe instrument on the surface of the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was 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 told IANS 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.

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