India’s first unmanned flight to the moon Chandrayaan-1, was launched on 22, 2008 from Sriharikota. It was supposed to orbit the moon for two years. The mission went good for about 312 days before the scientists lost all kind of contact in August 2009. The mission had been declared over after scientists tried their best but failed to find any traces of the satellite. But here is the good or I may say the best.. Chandrayaan-1 is still orbiting the moon as NASA scientists have found by using a new ground-based radar technique.
Chandrayaan-1 is still circling some 200 kilometers above the lunar surface, scientists at Nasa‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California located it. They used an interplanetary radar to observe small asteroids several million miles from Earth, researchers were not certain that an object of this smaller size as far away as the Moon could be detected, even with the world’s most powerful radars. Chandrayaan-1 proved the perfect target as spacecraft is very small, a cube about 1.5 meters on each side- about half the size of a smart car, for demonstrating the capability of this technique.
Chandrayaan-1, reported first evidence of the presence of water molecules on the moon’s surface in 2009. ISRO had suggested that the spacecraft’s orbit would slowly decay and it would ultimately crash onto the lunar surface. A scientist there told NDTV, “It is very heartening that India’s first inter-planetary probe has survived the vagaries of space for nine long years.”
Here’s how they found it?? JPL’s team used Nasa’s 70-metre antenna at Nasa’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves directed towards the Moon. Then the radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.Finding a derelict spacecraft at lunar distance is a challenge because the Moon is riddled with mascons (regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull) that can dramatically affect a spacecraft’s orbit over time, and even cause it to have crashed into the Moon. On July 2 last year, the team pointed Goldstone and Green Bank at a location about 160 kilometres above the Moon’s north pole and waited to see if the lost spacecraft crossed the radar beam.
Over heating (Thermal and radiation) encountered by Chandrayaan-1 was more severe than anticipated by ISRO which would have led to its “Lost State.” During its ten months of existence, Chandrayaan -1 completed 312 days in orbit and provided large amount of data. Chandrayaan-1 had completed more than 3400 revolutions around the moon. It had dispatched over 70,000 images of the moon surface. The mission is abruptly ended but all the data was downloaded from the spacecraft on a regular basis and no scientific data is lost.
The spacecraft, designed for geological and chemical mapping, was successfully launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on October 22, 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) north of Chennai. Barely a year after the Moon Craft was launched, ISRO lost communication with the spacecraft on August 29, 2009. It carried around 11 scientific instruments that were reportedly built in India, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria. It aimed at conducting chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of mineral and chemical elements such as Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium as well as high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium and Thorium with high spatial resolution. Chandrayaan operated for 312 days as opposed to the intended two years but the mission achieved 95 per cent of its planned objectives.
Even though in orbit, chandrayan 1 is completely incapable of sending or receiving data to earth, which means it is nothing more than space junk, a derelict souvenir. But yet, it is a great motivator for planning of Chandrayaan – 2 and many more. Chandrayaan mission is aimed to answer key questions about origin of moon, its evolution and possibility of water on the lunar surface. India’s first lunar probe boosted India’s capacity to build more efficient rockets and satellites, especially through miniaturization, and opened research avenues for young Indian scientists.
Chandrayaan-2 launch is planned by first quarter of 2018. Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, is a totally indigenous initiative consisting of an orbiter, lander and rover is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1. After reaching the 100-km lunar orbit, the lander housing the rover will separate from the orbiter. After a controlled descent, the lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy the rover. The six-wheeled rover will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil. Collection of soil and rock sediments is not planned in this mission. It seems to be a promising endeavour to know more details of moon.