Wednesday, March 4, 2009

CHANDRAYAAN: One giant leap for Indian astrophysics

The moon with the history of the early solar system and that of the planet earth, etched on it beckons mankind from time immemorial to admire its marvel and discover its secrets. Understanding the moon provides a pathway to unravel the early evolution of the solar system and that of the planet earth. Drive of Human desire and quest of knowledge has led to the scientific study of moon.
In modern era, exploration of the moon got a boost with the advent of the space age and decades of 60s and 70s saw a myriad of successful unmanned and manned missions to moon. Hiatus of about one and half decade followed. During this period the humankind kept itself busy with refining the knowledge about the origin and evolution of the moon and its place as a link to understand the early history of the solar system on earth.
During this period the man kind kept itself busy with refining the knowledge regarding moon, earth and solar system. During the course of this refinement, several new question about lunar evolution also emerged and new possibilities of using the moon as a platform for further exploration of the solar system and beyond were formulated.
A New renaissance of rejuvenated interest dawned as moon again became the prime target for exploration. All the major space faring nations of the world plans to utilize moon for its own as well as a potential base for space exploration.
The following are the motivational factors for chandrayaan kind of missions:
1) In Twentieth century moon attracts the attention of Russia, Europe and USA.
2) In Twenty first century it also got hotter in India, China, and Japan.
The current phase of frantic activity centred on the moon, has been triggered off by 2 US expeditions in 1994 and 1998, which discovered the possibilities of exploring lunar resources for national advantage.
According to some vital data available on different internet sites, the main motives behind the moon mission are:-
1) Possibilities of human colonisation.
2) To prepare a 3D-atlas of both near and far side of the moon.
3) To conduct a chemical and mineralogical mapping of entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as magnesium, aluminium, iron, silicon, calcium, titanium with spatial resolution of 20 km and high at radium, uranium, thorium with 40 km.
4) Simultaneous photo geo-logical and chemical mapping helping in hypothesis for origin and early evolution history of the moon and help in determining nature.
But, the main reason behind selection of moon, in order to conduct a full-fledged research is that it is the most accessible celestial body and thus became the base for research.
India’s moon mission was initiated in 1999, the idea of undertaking it was still under the womb of ISRO before a discussion took place in Astronomical society in the year 2000. And then the growth of the whole mission was even more interesting to watch just like watching a womb developing during its ‘Shaping-up’ tenure. ISRO constituted a task force known as National Lunar Mission Task Force, which will be extremely worthwhile to plan an Indian mission to the moon. It provides space inputs such as primary space objects of such a mission, plausible instrument to meet this objective. Launch and spacecraft technologies that need for DSN (Deep Space Network) station in India for communication.
Hence in my perception India should undertake more missions like this, particularly in view of the renowned international interest on moon with several exciting missions planned for the new millennium. Thrust to basic science and engineering research in country include new challenges to ISRO to go beyond geo-stationary orbit.
Chandrayaan (ISRO) was approved by government in November 2003. Odyssey of chandrayaan-1 was conducted by DSN on outskirts of Bangalore. This lunar craft was launched by a modern version of PSLV-XL. The next mission of this lunar craft chandrayaan-2 will come by 2010 under guidance of Dr.SreeKumar. The chandrayaan first was launched in October 2008 and there were two projects that undergone, first one consisted of a Lunar orbiter and the second one was having Impacter. It was successfully launched under the prior guidance of Mr.M.Annadurai, this whole mission was of about 386 crore rupees and reached to moon in nearly 5 and a half day time, this satellite was of 1.5m in size and it weighs around 1304 kg (590 kg of Initial orbit and 504 kg of dry mass) carrying high resolution, And also remote sensing equipment for visible and near infrared, soft and hard x-ray frequencies. The duration of the orbit is near about 2 years.
Whole project will include 5 ISRO payloads and 6 payloads from other international space agencies such as NASA and ESA and Bulgarian aerospace agency.
Name of the experiment by 6 playloads from International science communities:
1) Terrain Mapping stereo camera- ISRO
2) High energy X-ray camera-ISRO
3) Lunar last ranging instrument-ISRO
4) Hyper spectral Imaging camera-ISRO
5) Moon Impact probe camera-ISRO
6) Chandrayaan-1 X-ray spectrometer.
Thus, it is very true that CHANDRAYAAN is something which adds to honour in Indian astrophysics. Hope so these kind of missions should keep on progressing and further we will be able to take initiatives like this only. And its very inevitable that youth of our nation should opt the science perceiving a vision of leading Indian astrophysica and the whole world to larger than life avenues.

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