Chandrayaan-1 is India's first unmanned mission to the Moon.
India's first mission to the Moon
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Chandrayaan satellite ready for launch.
Launched October 2008
An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) mission
Contact lost August 2009
Carried key UK instrument
It was designed to orbit the Moon, performing high resolution mapping of the lunar surface. Its sensors measured visible light as well as near infrared, low energy and X-ray wavelengths. The spacecraft was used to assess the moon's mineral resources and the distribution of elements such as silicon, iron and titanium.
Chandrayaan-1 consisted of a 1.5m cube and its scientific package contained two NASA, three European and seven Indian instruments. These instruments included a 30kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP) designed to penetrate the lunar surface.
One of the key instruments on board, C1XS (Chandrayaan-1 X-ray spectrometer), was built in the UK. It was designed to examine the composition of the moon and the distribution of chemical elements. It is a more powerful version of the D-CIXS instrument which flew on-board
Despite the premature loss of Chandrayaan-1, scientists have been able to produce several scientific papers from the mission. The reported reason for the spacecraft's loss is heat-related failure of the onboard control system. The two star trackers failed in April 2009 and the spacecraft altitude was increased to 200km by the Indian Space Research Organisation to allow the mission to continue. Unfortunately, communications were lost early on 29th August 2009 and the mission was terminated the following day. In order to make its measurements, the C1XS instrument relied on sunlight. When sunlight shines on the Moon, the chemical elements in the surface absorb X-rays and then emit them. Each element emits a distinctive pattern of X-rays. By detecting these rays from an orbiting spacecraft, a detailed map can be built-up of the Moon's surface composition.
C1XS was designed to map aluminium, magnesium, silicon, calcium and, if possible, titanium and iron.
Other instruments included the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) and the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR), designed to detect water ice up to a depth of several metres.UK involvementThe STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory designed and built the Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS) in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation and the University of Helsinki under a contract from the European Space Agency.
The science team was chaired by Dr Ian Crawford from Birkbeck College, London, and the Principal Investigator is Prof Manuel Grande of the University of Wales, Aberystwth.
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