CHANDRAYAAN-1: India’s first travel to the Moon

The Indian Space Research Organisation ( ISRO)is planning to send a polar orbiting satellite called CHANDRAYAAN-1 to the Moon, for remote sensing of the lunar surface. This will be sent between 22 Oct – 26 Oct 2006. Chandrayan, which is being launched at a total cost of Rs 386 crore, is also scheduled to carry 11 payloads, which would include those from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Sweden, Japan, Germany and Bulgaria.

Dr Alex further pointed out that the technology used for the Chandrayan mission is ten times better than other countries. Moreover, ISRO excels in remote sensing and imaging and hence the moon can be photographed from a close range of five metres from the ground.

Dr Alex added that the main objective of this mission was to understand the origin of the moon.

Apart from conducting tests on the surface of the moon, the mission also intends to conduct tests on the poles of the moon. Scientists are planning to land a rover on the moon to carry out chemical analysis of the lunar surface. The mission aims to cover the entire moon and gather as much information as possible.

Currently, Chandrayan is going through crucial tests in Bengaluru. It still has to undergo the vibration and acoustic tests.

The spacecraft will be subject to heavy vibration first and then the sound of four jet planes will be put together to check its endurance.

The scientific objectives of the proposed mission are simultaneous geochemical, mineralogical and photogeological studies of the whole lunar surface. The payloads include hyperspectral imager for mineralogical mapping,
X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for elemental mapping, low energy gamma-ray spectrometer for mapping some radioactive elements, a terrain mapping camera and a laser altimeter, leaving a provision for some additional instruments, which may enhance the capability of this mission in achieving its objectives. A plausible launch scenario using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) suggests that a lunarcraft (dry weight 440 kg), carrying about 60 kg of payloads can be inserted in a 100 km altitude polar orbit around the Moon with adequate fuel (about 80 kg) for orbit maintenance to sustain it for two years of observations for complete coverage of the lunar surface.
Here we describe the scientific reasons for undertaking such a mission and some of the major scientific challenges. The purpose of this article is to involve the scientific community of the country in formulating the best possible objectives and participating in the mission.


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