India launches first lunar mission
October 25, 2008 The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully launched Chandrayaan-1, the country’s first attempt at a moon landing. The two-year, USD$80 million mission will see the PSLV-C11 rocket enter lunar orbit in roughly two weeks, before descending to a final 100 km-high circular orbit. The Moon Impact Probe will land on the lunar surface, while the orbiter will continue gathering data with 11 scientific instruments.
Three of the instruments are from the European Space Agency, which is also assisting with flight dynamics, and data archiving and processing. The Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer will measure the abundance of magnesium, aluminum, silicon, iron, and titanium, as well as monitoring solar flux. The Smart Near-Infrared Spectrometer will gather data on the mineral make-up, surface features, and different layers of the moon’s crust. The Sub-kiloelectronvolt Atom Reflecting Analyser will study the way the lunar surface interacts with the solar wind, as well as the surface’s magnetic anomalies.
“In an era of renewed interest for the Moon on a worldwide scale, the ESA-ISRO collaboration on Chandrayaan-1 is a new opportunity for Europe to expand its competence in lunar science while tightening the long-standing relationship with India - an ever stronger space power,” said Prof. David Southwood, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration. “While the exploration of space calls for new challenges to be overcome, joining forces is becoming more and more a key to future successes.”
Visit the Indian Space Research Organisation site for further information on the mission.