Indian space agency to map the moonOctober 22nd, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS
Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) Oct 22 (IANS) The Indian space agency will map the entire surface of the moon in two years, a top official said here Wednesday, hours after the launch of the country’s first unmanned mission to the moon. “The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft carries 11 instruments that would conduct varied tests about the moon,” G. Madhavan Nair, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told reporters here.
Chandrayaan-1, with a life expectancy of two years, is scheduled to orbit the moon from Nov 8 onwards.
Speaking about the Rs.3.86 billion mission, Nair said: “It is a historic moment. The mission has opened a new chapter in the Indian as well as global space community.”
He said the performance of all the subsystems were on expected lines.
Visibly happy at the copybook launch, Nair said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had many superlatives to describe ISRO.
“India feels proud of this space achievement,” Singh told Nair.
Terming the launch as the first leg of a long journey, he said there were many hidden challenges ahead.
The next step is to raise the spacecraft to the lunar orbit - 384,000 km from here.
“We will raise the spacecraft’s orbit step by step,” Nair explained.
Speaking to IANS, Chandrayaan-1 project director M. Annadurai said: “The moon impact probe (MIP) is expected to hit the moon surface around Nov 15.” The probe will carry the Indian tricolour to the moon.
The ISRO scientists have had many anxious moments in the four days leading to the launch. Apart from all the last minute checks, it had been raining heavily till Tuesday evening, putting a question mark on the launch schedule.
“During the last 10 hours of the countdown, we had lost hope of the launch happening. However we just made it,” Nair added.
It worked, thanks to the precise predictions made by the weather experts. “The six hour weather predictions were precise and the 48 hour predictions were 85 percent correct,” Nair pointed out.