29 Aug : Ten months after it was launched, India’s maiden moon mission the ambitious Chandrayaan-1 came to an abrupt end on Saturday after ISRO lost communication with the spacecraft, cutting short the dream odyssey that was expected to last two years.
“The mission is definitely over. We have lost contact with the spacecraft,” Project Director of the Chandrayaan-1 mission M Annadurai told the news agency.
However, he said “It (Chandrayaan-1) has done its job technically…100 per cent. Scientifically also, it has done almost 90-95 percent of its job”.
The two-year mission, launched on 22nd October last year with much fanfare, was abandoned early today after the after radio contact with the mooncraft was abruptly lost at 0130 hours.
The Deep Space Network at Byalalu near here received the data from the 1,380 kg Chandrayaan-1, which carried 11 instruments on board, including six from overseas, during the previous orbit up to 0025 hours.
ISRO is conducting detailed review of the telemetry data from the spacecraft.
“We will analyse as to what happened,” Annadurai said.
Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched by homegrown PSLV-C11 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, has completed 312 days in orbit, making more than 3,400 orbits around the moon.
It has provided large volume of data from sophisticated sensors such as terrain mapping camera, hyper-spectral imager and moon mineralogy mapper, meeting most of the scientific objectives of the mission.
ISRO said last month Chandrayaan-1 had sent more than 70,000 images of the lunar surface which provide breathtaking views of lunar mountains and craters, especially craters in the permanently shadowed areas of the Moon’s polar region.
Chandrayaan-1 was also collecting valuable data pertaining to the chemical and mineral content of the Moon, ISRO said on 17th July.
Significantly, on 21st August, ISRO and NASA performed a unique joint experiment that the Indian space agency said could yield additional information on the possibility of existence of ice in a permanently shadowed crater near the North pole of the moon.
The end to the Chandrayaan-1 mission comes just over four months after the onboard star sensor for determining the orientation of the spacecraft started malfunctioning on 26th April, and one of the bus management units failed.
To overcome the anomaly of star sensor failure, ISRO devised an innovative technique of using redundant sensors gyroscopes along with antenna-pointing information and images of specific location on the surface of the moon, for determining the orientation of the spacecraft.
This method, according to ISRO, had been validated and based on this information, mission operations were being carried out satisfactorily.
ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told the news agency in an interview earlier this month 95 per cent of the scientific objectives of the Chandrayaan-1 mission had been achieved.
“Another five per cent, what’s left out, we will try to take up in the next season which is starting in October so that we can complete all the observations”, he had said.
ISRO had convened a meeting of scientists next month to “ensure it has not left out anything”.
“Today, we know that there is no redundancy on board. So, if further failure….if it happens, then we will be crippled”.
There were 11 payloads on board the 1,380 kg Chandrayaan-1- five designed and developed in India, three from European Space Agency, one from Bulgaria and two from the United States.