Indian probe touches down on Moon

By | November 15, 2008

India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan 1, has placed a probe on the surface of the Moon.

The probe, painted with the Indian flag, touched down at 2034 (1504 GMT), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. It will perform various experiments, including measuring the composition of the Moon’s atmosphere. The mission is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the success of the mission has been hailed in India where many see it as another sign of the country’s emergence as a global power.

Earlier this week Chandrayaan 1 began orbiting the Moon some three weeks after it was launched from a space centre in southern India. The dropping of the Moon Impact Probe (MIP), weighing about 30kg, concludes the first phase of the mission.

“During its descent from Chandrayaan 1, an onboard video camera transmitted lunar pictures to the ISRO command centre,” spokesman S Satish said, AFP news agency reports.

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In the days to come, the probe will measure the composition of the Moon’s ultra-tenuous atmosphere, or exosphere.

For the next two years, Chandrayaan 1 will map a three-dimensional atlas of the Moon and also check for the presence of water-ice with the help of instruments built by India and other countries including the US, Britain and Germany. – bbc

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The MIP carried three instruments, and data was successfully transmitted from the 25-minute descent of the probe after it was ejected from the orbiting Chandrayaan-1. The impact, however caused a cessation of the instruments’ transmissions, but not before providing useful descent data. The ISRO has already released a couple of images. – universetoday

The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) essentially consists of honeycomb structure, which houses all the subsystems and instruments. In addition to the instruments, the separation system, the de-boost spin and de-spin motors, it comprises of the avionics system and thermal control system. The avionics system supports the payloads and provides communication link between MIP and the main orbiter, from separation to impact and provides a database useful for future soft landing.  – isro

Watch the isro site here for the latest moon photos. Look at the Earth photo compared to the Moon photo from Chandrayaan-1. Why does the quality of the Moon photo seem reduced?

Here is a video showing details of the mission:

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