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The colours of India to the moon

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KEY TOOL: The Indian flag is painted on the Moon Impact Probe, which will “sit like a hat” on Chandrayaan-1.
KEY TOOL: The Indian flag is painted on the Moon Impact Probe, which will “sit like a hat” on Chandrayaan-1.

T.S. Subramanian

The tasks for the Chandrayaan mission, all set to be launched on October 22

CHENNAI: The Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which has pride of place among the 11 instruments on board Chandrayaan-1, is painted with the proud colours of the Indian flag. It is this instrument that will land on the moon’s surface and leave telltale evidence of an Indian instrument having reached the moon.

The MIP, which weighs 29 kg and sits like a hat on top of Chandrayaan-1, has been built by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

The MIP will be a technological forerunner to India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission which will deploy a lander or a rover on the moon. Russia will build this lander/ rover. If it is a rover, it will look like children’s toy-car, a few feet long and a few feet broad.

It will move around the moon, pick up soil samples, do chemical analysis in situ and transmit the data to the ground. India’s Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will put Chandrayaan-2 in orbit around 2011-12.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s federal space agency Roskosmos signed an agreement on November 12, 2007, which envisages a joint lunar mission for Chandrayaan-2. While ISRO will build the mother-spacecraft, Roskosmos will build the lander/rover. This lander/rover will detach from Chandrayaan-2 and land on the moon.

Preparations are on at Sriharikota for the launch of Chandrayaan-1 on October 22 by ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11). Chandrayaan-1 will carry 11 instruments — five from India and six from abroad.

An important instrument is the MIP.

M. Annadurai, Project Director, Chandrayaan-1, explained how the MIP would land on the moon. After Chandrayaan-1 reaches the lunar orbit at an altitude of 100 km, ISRO will give commands to it to re-orient and eject the MIP, which has a motor on board.

“The motor will fire for two seconds to reduce the MIP’s velocity to 75 metres a second,” Mr. Annadurai said.

As the MIP descends to the moon’s surface, its video-camera will take pictures of the lunar surface. These pictures will help ISRO to decide where to land Chandrayaan-2’s rover.

The MIP’s altimeter will measure its altitude from the moon every second of its journey towards the moon.

A third instrument, a mass spectrometer, will sense the moon’s atmospheric constituents as it keeps falling and crashes on the moon.

All this data will be sent to Chandrayaan-1 till the MIP crashes on the moon. Chandrayaan-1, in turn, would beam the data to the earth, Mr. Annadurai said.

Related stories:
  • Chandrayaan to be launched on October 22
  • Moon mission is not expensive, says ISRO
  • Chandrayaan-1 taking final tests
  • Cabinet clears Chandrayaan-2
  • Chandrayaan-1 on course for launch

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