22 October 2008

Plans of Chandrayaan-II

After the success of India's first unmanned moon mission ISRO has now proposed its second odyssey to the moon, Chandrayaan-II will be launched by the end of next year or early 2010. Initially, the plans of Chandrayaan-II was that it would be launched by the end of 2010 or early 2011. But the success of Chandrayaan-I has pre-poned the launch of Chandrayaan-II.

PSLV C-11 Rocket being launched today morning bearing Chandrayaan-I

Chandrayaan-II is an Indo-Russian joint venture. Russian federal space agency have already signed a pact with ISRO. "One of the two GSLV missions next year will carry Chandrayaan-II", says ISRO Chairman Mr. G. Madhavan Nair.

Chandrayaan-II would feature a lander and a rover for a soft land on moon. The rover will be designed by Russia’s federal space agency. India may be the second country to land a rover on the moon after USA during NASA's Apollo missions.

Mr. Nair expects more accomodating payloads (experiments) from other space agencies for the second odyssey just as in Chandrayaan-I. Chandrayaan-I carried 11 payloads of which 5 are Indian, 3 are from the European Space Agency, 2 from the NASA and one from Bulgaria.

"Even though China's and Japan's moon satellite (which are still in Moon's orbit) took high resolution pictures of the moon, they aren't as comprehensive as Chandrayaan-I", says former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace. The budget of Chandrayaan-I is also considerably cheaper than that of Japan or China.

This also strenghtens the space race in Asia. Japan, China and now India have successfully launched moon missions. China is leading in the race ever since they put taikonauts (Chinese Astronauts) in space in 2003 and had their first space walk last month. Even though this is India's first space expedition beyond Earth's orbit India is quickly catching up with China. India might even successfully land a rover and also humans on the moon's surface even before China.

Chandrayaan in Orbit

India becomes the sixth country (after Soviet, USA, European Space Agency, Japan and China) to launch a satellite to the moon as Chandrayaan-I has been successfully placed in its orbit around Earth. The PSLV with the satellite was launched at the designated time and the path of the rocket was perfect as planned. Chandrayaan will orbit earth for a few days and then head its way to the Moon. It will be expected to reach the Moon on November 5th.

Chandrayaan was launched at 6:22am today and by 18 mins the satellite was put into orbit. So far there has not been a problem in the satellite or the rocket. The rocket projected through the designated path perfectly and ISRO says it has hit a “Bull’s Eye”.

I was eagerly waiting with a camera to shoot a video of the rocket on my terrace. Unfortunately over-cast did not help me at all. Thick clouds blocked the view of the rocket completely.

PSLV C-11 with Chandrayaan on its way to the Launch Pad

PSVL C-11 ready for the launch

I will be constantly updating on the Chandrayaan mission and hope that it will successfully reach the moon’s orbit which is due in two weeks time.

20 October 2008

Mission Chandrayaan

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reaches a new peak in their mission. In two days time Chandrayaan-I will be launched at Sriharikota on October 22, 2008 at exactly 6:20am IST.

Chandrayaan-I is an un-manned lunar spacecraft (meaning it carries no human). The spacecraft (Chandrayaan-I) will be launched by a modified version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11). The lunar probe would revolve around Moon for two years taking high resolution images of the lunar surface and also mapping its chemical and mineralogical content. It also concentrates on the polar region where water and ice could possibly be found. The satellite weighs about 1304 kg and the estimated cost is about INR 3.8 billion.

Chandrayaan-I under construction

The scientific payloads/experiments of Chandrayaan are TMC, HySI, LLRI, HEX, MIP, C1XS, SIR-2, SARA, RADOM, MiniSAR and M3. Click here to know more about them.

The Path of Chandrayaan

The Moon Exploration began on September 14, 1959, when Luna 2 was launched by Soviet Union. Since then USA, Japan and China have also successfully launched spacecrafts to the moon. This is India’s first mission to Moon and India will be the sixth country to send a spacecraft there. USA is the only country that has successfully sent man to during the Apollo Missions (1963-1972).

Chandrayaan-I will be followed by Chandrayaan-II in 2010/11. Chandrayaan-II will consist of the spacecraft itself and a landing platform with the Moon Rover. A moon rover is an automated motorized vehicle which moves around the surface of the moon, collecting soil and rock samples, do in situ chemical analysis and transmit it to the mother-spacecraft, Chandrayaan-II. USA has already used the lunar rover during their Apollo missions (Apollo 15 - 17).

A artistic representation of the Chandrayaan-II rover

The Lunar Rover of Apollo 15 with James Irwin

ISRO also plans to undertake a manned space exploration by 2014 (send man to space). India would then become the fourth country to send man to space after Soviet Union, USA and China.

If these missions succeed, then ISRO plans to send a manned mission to the moon on 2020. If ISRO succeeds in this, India will be the second country to land man on moon.

Meanwhile China plans to land a rover on the moon on 2012. China has entered into an agreement to work with Russia to eventually land Taikonauts (Chinese Astronauts) on the moon before 2020. So its all a race between India and China on who will reach there first.

I just hope all this works out for India as the countdown for Chandrayaan-I has begun.

Chandrayaan-I is ready for the launch

People who live in Chennai can actually see the launch of Chandrayaan-I. Look at North at the exactly 6:20am on October 22nd. You should be able to see the rocket shooting upwards provided the clear sky.

1 October 2008

Picture Of The Month - September 2008

This picture was taken on September 1st, at Perth, Australia. This evening picture shows the crescent Moon along with three planets. The brightest of the three is Venus as the Evening Star. The tiny shining object above Venus is Mercury and the object at the top most is Mars. The three planets are found on the western sky after the sunset. This picture was taken across the Swan River and the six towers on the left of the image surrounds the Perth Cricket Stadium.