Two more Chandrayaan instruments to be activated in mid-December

November 29th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Nov 29 (IANS) Two of the 10 remaining scientific instruments onboard India’s first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 will be activated in mid-December for conducting experiments while the spacecraft orbits over the moon during next two years, a top space agency official said Saturday.”The sub-kiloelectronvolt (keV) atom reflecting analyser (SARA) and the high-energy x-ray spectrometer (HEX) are scheduled to be activated in mid-December as they need favourable condition from the sun angle. The remaining eight payloads have been energised and are functioning well,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G. Madhavan Nair told reporters here on the sidelines of a space conference.

Of the 11 payloads, the moon impact probe (MIP) was successfully lowered onto the lunar surface Nov 14 with excellent results. The other eight instruments are - mini synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR), moon mineralogy mapper (M3), radiation dose monitor (RADOM), terrain mapping camera (TMC), hyper-spectral imager (HySI), lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI), imaging x-ray spectrometer (C1XS) and smart near infrared spectrometer (SIR-2).

Five instruments were indigenously built by ISRO, while the remaining six payloads are of foreign origin - three from the European Space Agency, two from the US space agency NASA and one from Bulgaria.

Built jointly by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Space Physics Laboratory of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VKSC) at Thiruvananthapuram, SARA will study the composition of moon, the way its surface reacts to solar wind, how its materials change and the magnetic anomalies.

Similarly, the 16-kg HEX will explore the moon’s polar regions (north-south) covered by thick water-ice deposits.

“The scientific objectives of these instruments are remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared, low-energy x-rays and high-energy x-ray regions. During the two-year expedition, the 10 payloads will be involved in preparing a three-dimensional atlas of both near and far side of the moon, with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10 metres,” Nair said.

Talking about feedback from the MIP, Nair said the built-in video imaging system (camera) took excellent pictures of the moon’s surface, craters, mountain-like structures while descending from the mother spacecraft (Chandrayaan) from about 100-km altitude in 25 minutes.

“The MIP camera took about 3,000 images during its 25-minute descent. Some of the images include the ridge of the Shackleton crater and a vivid picture of the field where the probe crash-landed, thus confirming the execution was precise and at the designated place. They are a valuable catch,” Nair recalled.

He was speaking after inaugurating the World Space Biz 2008, a three-day international conference and exhibition on space technology organised by ISRO in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The mass spectrometer, which was the second instrument in the MIP, had transmitted valuable data on the elements of the moon’s surface and the constituents of the thin lunar atmosphere.

The data, received from the mother spacecraft at the deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore, is being caliberated and studied by ISRO scientists.

“The data is so voluminous that it will take three months to analyse by our experts. The third instrument - the c-band altimeter gave the trajectory of the descent and confirmed whatever we have done was on target. The MIP experiment is unique as the Chinese and Japanese lunar missions did not have such a one,” Nair asserted.

Chandrayaan was blasted off Oct 22 onboard the 316-tonne polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) C11 from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km north of Chennai.

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