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Chandrayaan 1, India's First Lunar Probe

Chandrayaan 1 was India's first lunar probe for remote sensing of the Moon to help map its minerology, 3D topography (with resolution down to 5-10 meters), and search for lunar polar water using a Moon Impact Probe to strike near the Shackleton polar crater to kick up material for the orbiter to analyze. Chandrayaan 1 was a project of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and it carried 5 ISRO payloads plus 6 additional from NASA and European space agencies into its lunar polar orbit.

The mission proved a lot of India's technology. The total cost of the mission was approximately $ 90 million.

The mission was a success in that it achieved its main objectives, though there were some problems and failures.

The mission was announced in 2003, launched in 2008, and came to an end 10 months later in 2009 due to equipment failure, the point of failure being an electrical component made in the USA and imported to India for the mission which had overheated. However, there was a flaw in the thermal shielding which resulted in the spacecraft running hotter, the heat believed to be due to sunlight as well as the Moon's reflectivity and infrared emissions, which required some improvised mitigation which compromised some parts of the mission. Nevertheless, the mission had accomplished its main goals by the time of failure.

The lunar impact probe was reported to have found water, as well as having tested some systems for a future lunar lander from India.

However, the main data on lunar polar water was the radar package (MiniSAR) which discovered or confirmed other probes' detection and quantification of ice in at least 40 permanently shadowed craters in the north pole region.

There was also an attempt for the Chadrayaan 1 probe to work together with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at a particular moment when their locations in orbit allowed, but that experiment failed due the radar on Chandrayaan being pointed in the wrong direction (out towards space instead of down towards the target).

Chadrayaan 1 also discovered a large tunnel near the lunar equator, a lava tube. In general, lava tubes are interesting as sites of potential human habitation, as they give natural radiation and thermal shielding and a large indoor volume.

A followup probe, Chandrayaan 2, a lunar lander probe, is under construction and scheduled for launch in 2014 or 2016. It is a joint project with the Russian Space Agency.

External links:

Chandrayaan 1 on Wikipedia

Chandrayaan 1, official ISRO info

Chandrayaan 2 on Wikipedia

Chandrayaan advocate website, open participation > Lunar Resources (Mining The Moon) > Probes, History and Future > Chadrayaan 1

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