Space scientists laud India's moon mission data
Bangalore: Top international space scientists Monday lauded India's maiden lunar mission for the excellent quality of the data sent by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, a senior space agency official said.
"About 50 scientists from Europe, America and India met here to review the data received from Chandrayaan during its 10-month tryst with the moon and expressed happiness at the excellent quality of its pictures, graphs and imagery," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish said to a news agency.
A dozen scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences participated in the day-long review meetings at the space agency's headquarters in this tech hub.
About 40 scientists from ISRO and its affiliated agencies also attended the closed-door meeting, where data from the 11 scientific instruments ('payloads') onboard the spacecraft were presented by the space agencies.
The meeting, spread over three sessions, began with an address by ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, who presented a summary report of the mission, highlighting the scientific and technology objectives achieved with a success rate of 95 percent.
"The inconclusive meeting decided to give more time for scientists of the respective space agencies to analyse the voluminous data to reveal more information about the moon, its origins and evolution," Satish said.
Of the 11 instruments, three were from ESA, two from NASA and one from Bulgaria, while the remaining five were Indian from ISRO and its agencies.
"The huge volume of data, including about 70,000 images of the moon and its structure needs a few more sittings of experts to find out the availability of chemical, mineral and water ice on the lunar surface," Satish pointed out.
The meeting, however, did not discuss the reasons for terminating the mission abruptly Aug 30 after attempts to restore communication link with the spacecraft by the space agency's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) here failed.
"There was a brief mention about the early termination of the mission at the meeting, but no detailed discussion was held, as an analysis committee has been set up to probe into the abrupt snapping of radio contact with the spacecraft with the ground station," a scientist said on the condition of anonymity.
Chandrayaan was launched Oct 22, 2008 from spaceport Sriharikota, about 90 km northeast of Chennai.
The ESA's three payloads were the imaging x-ray spectrometer (C1XS), the smart infrared spectrometer (SIR-2) and sub-kiloelectronvolt (keV) atom reflecting analyzer (SARA).
Similarly, the US payloads were the 6.5 kg mini synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) and the moon mineralogy mapper (M3).
The lone Bulgarian payload was the radiation dose monitor (RADOM).
The five Indian payloads were the terrain mapping camera (TMC), the hyper spectral imager (HySI), the lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI), the high energy x-ray spectrometer (HEX) and the moon impact probe (MIP).
The technology objectives of the mission were to fly the spacecraft 400,000 km to the moon, inserting it into the lunar orbit and placing the Indian tricolour on the lunar surface.
The scientific objectives were chemical and mineralogical mapping of the lunar surface using sophisticated sensors, conducting high-resolution remote-sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared, low-energy and high-energy x-ray regions and three dimensional atlas of the near and far sides of the moon.