Monday, September 22, 2008

India to be propelled to big league with Chandrayaan-1 launch

India is set to be propelled to the big league with Chandrayaan-1 launch in October this year. The launch date is tentatively fixed for the 19th October and will be the launch of India in the league of nations that lead the scientific expertise in space exploration.

Chandrayaan-1 will also be the occasion when India takes its first steps beyond the geo-stationary Orbit, when Chandrayaan-1 transits to the moon.

After being cleared by the Government of India five years ago, and after repeated delays, Chandrayaan-1 is finally ready for launch on October 22, 2008. If the weather conditions are not favorable, the Chandrayaan-1 late October 2008 launch will be postponed to November or December 2008 when the orbital plane of the moon will again be aligned for a fuel efficient transfer.

Chandrayaan-1 was built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) along with partners such as HAL and carries 11 payloads, five from India and six from International agencies. This includes three from the European Space Agency (ESA) , one from the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency (BSA), and two from NASA.

The Chandrayaan-1 mission is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared(NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions.

The Chandrayaan-1 is a 590-kg spacecraft and it will be launched by a India's own Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

The spacecraft will carry 11 scientific payloads from six different countries - India, UK, USA, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria. The launch window is between October 19 and October 28. And according to some news sources October 19 is the probable date of liftoff.

During it's two year mission, Chandrayaan-1 will send back digital elevation maps of the moon and will try to find the traces of atomic elements such as radon, uranium and thorium in the surface of Moon. It will also look into the possibility of finding water on the moon with the help of pictures taken from high resolution cameras.

SRO has already made it clear that the Indian lunar mission will not be an exercise in reinventing the wheel. Chandrayaan-1 will strive to unravel the hitherto unknown features of the moon for the first time.

ISRO points out that a lunar mission can provide impetus to science in India, a challenge to technology and possibly a new dimension to international cooperation.

Also on the agenda are the preparation of the three dimensional atlas of the regions on the moon and the chemical mapping of the entire lunar surface.

This is a dream for any nation. And India is going to fulfill its long cherished dream on this coming 19th October. Everyone is unanimous on one thing. If India’s Moon project is successful, it will be something for everyone to cheer loudly about. The Moon is Earth’s single important natural satellite, and as planetary moons go, it is unusually large in size compared to Earth.

For India, which began its space journey in a modest way in 1963 with the launch of a 9-kilo rocket from a research facility at the fishing hamlet of Thumba in Kerala, the Chandrayaan-1 marks a quantum leap. Indeed, India’s unmanned scientific mission to moon, which was approved almost four years ago, has moved further up India’s priority list in the wake of China’s successful manned mission of October 2003.

In the meantime ISRO has announced that Chandrayaan 1 will be on Display for the first time before Media. Chandrayaan Means “Moon Craft”.

The Project was announced on the occasion of 56th independence day of India by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. India will be sending its own spacecraft to the Moon. Chandrayaan-1, the lunar craft would be launched using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) weighing 1304 kg at launch and 590 kg at lunar orbit. Lunar craft would orbit around moon 100 km from moon surface.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared(NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions. Specifically the objectives is to prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10m) of both near and far side of the moon.

Its objective is also to conduct chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium with a spatial resolution of about 25 km and high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium & Thorium with a spatial resolution of about 20 km.

It is hoped that simultaneous photo geological and chemical mapping will enable identification of different geological units, which will test the early evolutionary history of the moon and help in determining the nature and stratigraphy of the lunar crust.

ISRO scientists have placed aboard the spacecraft a moon Impact Probe, a 29kg instrument about twice the size of a shoebox, that will be released to impact onto the moon’s surface after a 20-minute fall.

“The impact probe will test small thrust rockets that will be used to slow down the fall. We’ll require this for future soft landings on the moon,” a senior official at Isro said. ISRO is planning to send an unmanned lunar lander in 2012.

India has seen numerous successes in the recent past with its space programs. On 28th April this year, India created history by launching ten satellites in one go, carrying a payload of 824 kg. India’s first fully commercial launch came on 23rd April when the Italian astronomical satellite, AGILE, was sent into space. On January 10th 2007, India launched the PSLV C-7 vehicle, injecting four satellites into orbit.

The mission would cost a whopping Rs 386 crores with payloads from other international agencies like NASA as well. It is indeed an exceptional example of international collaboration towards exploring the moon.

India has a history on a number of successful space programmes. On April 28, 2008, India created history by launching ten satellites in one go, carrying a payload of 824 kg. On April 23, 2008, India had its first fully commercial launch, when the Italian astronomical satellite, AGILE, was sent into space. On January 10, 2007, India had launched the PSLV C-7 vehicle, injecting as many as four satellites into orbit.

A partial chronology of ISRO

1963 - The first sounding rocket was launched Nov. 21 from TERLS.

1965 -Space Science & Technology Center (SSTC) was established in Thumba, Trivandrum.

1967 - Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station was erected at Ahmedabad.

1969 - Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was created on August 15 in the Department of Atomic Energy. Since then, ISRO has managed India's space research and the uses of space for peaceful purposes.

1972 - The government established the Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS) in June. DOS conducts the nation's space activities for ISRO at four space Centers across the country. DOS reports directly to the Prime Minister.

1972 - ISRO placed under DOS on June 1.

1975 - ISRO made a Government Org. on April 1.

1975 - Aryabhata, the first Indian space satellite, was launched for India on April 19.

1979 - Bhaskara-I, an experimental satellite for earth observations, launched on June 7.

1979 - The first experimental launch of an SLV-3 rocket on August 10 did not place its Rohini Technology Payload satellite in orbit.

1980 - India successfully launched its own Rohini-1 satellite on July 18 on a Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) rocket from the Sriharikota Island launch site.

1983 - The Rohini-3 communications satellite, launched in August, had by the end of 1985 extended nationwide television coverage from 20 percent to 70 percent of the population. Today it is about 90 percent.

1984 - The first Indian cosmonaut, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma became the 138th man in space when he spent eight days aboard the USSR's space station Salyut 7.

1992 - The Indian-built INSAT-2 geostationary communications and meteorological satellite superseded an American-built INSAT-1.

1993 - The even larger Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) debuted in September, but failed to attain orbit. Its individual elements were successful. PSLV can lift a one-ton satellite to a Sun-synchronous polar orbit.

2001 -- The first launch of a still larger Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket was successful on April 18.

2002- On 2nd September 1st MET Satellite was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Srihorikota. It keeps continuous watch on weather through its high resolution Radiometer.

2003-The multipurpose, INSAT-3A was launched from France on 10th April. A communication satellite weighing 1800 Kg was launched aboard the GSLV-D2 from Sriharikota on 8th May.

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