ISRO terminates Chandrayaan-1 moon mission: Nair

Last Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009 - 21:50

Panaji: India`s maiden Rs 400 crore moon
mission Chandrayaan-1 was on Sunday terminated, about one year
before the odyssey`s expected end, after ISRO failed to
restore the snapped communication link with the unmanned
spacecraft.

The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) while
announcing that the planned two-year lunar mission, launched
amid a national euphoria on October 22 last year, has been
formally called off said it would set up a high level
committee to probe the abrupt end.

"We don`t have contact with the spacecraft and we had to
terminate the mission," a visibly disappointed ISRO chief G
Madhavan Nair told reporters here.

The mission was abandoned early yesterday shortly after
radio contact with the craft was abruptly lost at 0130 HRS.

ISRO tried to send the commands but the space vehicle was
not able to respond. "The power signals which go to the
computer systems failed."

Nair said the malfunction in computers on-board the
spacecraft led to the failure in communications. "We tried to
recover the communications for the entire day yesterday."

The ISRO chief was talking to reporters on the eve of
the start of the eighth international conference on Low Cost
Planetary missions.

Nair however put up a brave face to say the mission was a
great success and 95 per cent of its objective was completed.
"We could collect a large volume of data, including 70,000
images of the moon."

He also said that India has already initiated discussions
with USA and Russia to use their radars to track the
spacecraft which is revolving in the orbit, about 200 kms away
from the moon.

Nair said the snags in Chandrayaan I would not result in
delay of Chandrayaan II. "There are some marginal corrections
that would be applied for the mission," he said.

When asked about the responsibility for the abrupt end,
Nair quipped,`"only I am responsible."

"Today we are disappointed with the development. But have
managed to get the large volume of data. We went through that
and are contended with the results," Nair said conceding that
it will not be possible to retrieve the spacecraft.

"The mission was a great success. Before the launch we
had set up success criterias and technology objectives. We
have found that all the instruments on the spacecraft worked
satisfactorily and entire scientific instruments have
performed that is how we could collect large volume of data."

He said more detailed cause for the failure could
not be ascertained in the absence of telemetry signals which
helps to point the cause through correlation process.

"More than 70,000 images of the moon were captured. It
showed the most important region of surface. We had joint
experiments with NASA scientists wherein the signals from our
spacecraft was sent to US satellite which were captured
successfully," Nair added.

Nair said that the environment around the moon was much
more severe than what we anticipated.

He however took comfort from the fact that Chandrayaan-I
lasted nearly one year.

"We survived for 315 days which is a good record. Many
such experiments have burnt within a month in the past," he
stated.

Replying to a question, the ISRO chief said the
mission was not carved for two years but instead the
spacecraft was designed with a two-year lifespan.

"After seeing the spacecraft in difficulty, we tried to
maximise its utility," Nair said.

ISRO scientists said the spacecraft is 200 kms away from
the moon and it will take 1,000 days to hit the lunar surface.

Nair said ISRO is constantly in touch with the
international partners of Chandrayaan-I and are very much
happy with the data collected during the mission.

He said that he has not spoken to the prime minister
personally. "But I informed PMO.. I will be talking to him
somewhere next week," he added.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, August 30, 2009 - 21:50

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