Monday, 17 November 2008
Chandrayaan-1 formally begins its two year mission to the earth's natural satellite
November 17, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 16: Chandrayaan-1 formally began its two year lunar mission on Sunday with the Indian Space Research Organisation switching on some of the scientific equipment including the terrain mapping camera and the lunar laser ranging instrument.
The terrain mapping camera took three-dimensional images of the lunar terrain, the first-ever spacecraft to do so. With the successful beaming back of images by the terrain mapping camera to the ISRO's centres, India became the first country in the world to have mapped the Moon in length, breadth and depth. Thus far only astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin have observed the Moon in three dimensions. Chandrayaan-1's images of the Moon are the first ones to be seen in 3D through lens.
According to ISRO director S Satish, the terrain mapping camera took "breathtaking pictures of the lunar panorama".
The pictures will be processed on Monday. This will give ISRO scientists what exactly lies hidden on the Moon, as this will be the first view of the Moon in three dimensions.
The lunar laser ranging instrument and terrain mapping camera are two of the 11 scientific instruments on board the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The laser equipment was turned on when the spacecraft was passing over western part of
the Moon’s visible hemisphere.
"Preliminary assessment of the data from laser instrument indicates that the instrument’s performance is normal," he said. The instrument sends pulses of infrared laser light towards a strip of lunar surface and detects the reflected
portion of that light. With this, the instrument can very accurately measure the height of Moon’s surface features.
According to ISRO, the laser instrument will be continuously kept on and it takes 10 measurements per second on both day and night sides of the Moon. It provides topographical details of both polar and equatorial regions of the Moon. Detailed analysis of the data sent by LLRI helps in understanding the internal structure of the Moon as well as the way that celestial body evolved.
ISRO also turned on radiation dose monitor on Sunday. It might be recalled that the Moon Impact Probe symbolically carrying the Indian tricolour was ejected onto the lunar terrain on Friday.
The terrain mapping camera has been functional for quite some time now. It has already sent pictures of the Earth and the Moon, though from a longer range. Now it is taking pictures from a close angle formally heralding the beginning of the Chandrayaan-1's two year mission to the lunar world.
The pictures and other scientific data sent by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft from lunar orbit have been received by antennas of Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu. The spacecraft operations are being carried out from the Satellite Control Centre of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network at Bangalore.
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