FORMER CHAIRMAN of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Director of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Dr K Kasturirangan, on Wednesday said despite a few dozen missions to moon by various countries, Chandrayan-I — India’s first lunar mission expected to zoom into space in late 2007- early 2008 — would go a long way in revealing answers to many an unanswered question regarding the evolution of the moon.
He said the unmanned mission would also lay the foundation for more ambitious Indian planetary exploration missions in the years to come.
Member of Parliament and renowned scientist technocrat of the country, Dr Kasturirangan was delivering the Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Lecture-2006 on ‘Chandrayan-I: India’s first step in Planetary Exploration’ at the Jawahar Planetarium.
After tracing the humble beginning of the Indian space programme, Dr Kasturirangan informed that the main objectives of Chandrayan-1 include obtaining images of the moon’s surface using high-resolution remote sensing instruments in the visible, near infrared, low and high-energy X-ray regions and would basically carry out a physical and chemical mapping of the moon.
He said Chandrayan-1 mission envisages placing a 525-kg satellite in a polar orbit 100-km above the moon. “The satellite would be launched using a modified version of India’s indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The spacecraft would initially be launched into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit, and subsequently manoeuvred into its final lunar orbit using its own propulsion system,” he said.
As per plans, the Chandrayan-I, besides the 55-kg payload (in a total in-lunar orbit mass of 523 kg) of on-board instruments, will also carry an impactor weighing about 25 kg as an add-on module on its two-year orbiting mission.
At a certain point when the craft enters lunar orbit, the ‘impacter’ will detach from the mother craft and head for the moon’s surface. The distance between the earth and the moon is about 385,000 km and the flying time will be around five days.
The ‘impacter’ will kick up lunar dust on landing on the moon, whose chemical composition will be analysed by scientists, Dr Kasturirangan added.
Earlier, former head of JK Institute of Applied Physics Prof AK Gupta introduced Dr Kasturirangan and praised his contributions in the Indian space programme while Director of Jawahar Planetarium Pramod Kumar Pande welcomed the eminent scientist and informed the gathering about the Jawaharlal Nehru memorial Lecture series.