NASA Upbeat Finding Lost India’s Chandrayaan I

Way back on August 29, 2009, Indian Space Research Organisation launched its first orbiting satellite Chandrayaan I to observe Moon but it fell silent after 312 days, cutting short the lifespan from two years.

Undaunted, ISRO launched ntext mega project MoM or Mangalyaan to Mars that was a bigger success and live even to this day far more than its expected lifespan of six months.

The forgotten Chandrayaan I was not even seen by Earth’s telescopes, let alone locate its orbiting path, which was found erratic due to its dense material with higher-than-average gravitational pull.

But finally NASA’s powerful radio telescopes found it last week with renewed enthusiasm about India’s first experiment to send an orbiter. Scientists at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California’s remote Mojave Desert and at the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia are upbeat over thier detection.

The scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory used a new technique to send radio waves when Chandrayaan-1’s orbit takes it over the moon’s north pole vis the Goldstone’s largest antenna that is used to communicate with the Voyager 1 beyond our solar system.

Once the microwaves bounced back from Chandrayaan-1, the Green Bank radio telescope was able to listen and the timing matched the Chandrayaan-1’s orbit. With other parameters coinciding, they knew that it was India’s Chandrayaan I, which fell silent but still orbiting the moon. Upbeat NASA said the ground-based radars could possibly play a part in future robotic and human missions to the moon.

“To be declared lost and then found after eight years is a great accomplishment,” said Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, who was at the helm of its launch by ISRO in 2009. Here’s a glance at what Chandrayaan-1 accomplished otherwise:


Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to Moon, was launched on October 22, 2008 from Sriharikota and it is still orbiting around the Moon at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface for chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon. The spacecraft carried 11 scientific instruments built in India, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria.

After its orbit had been raised to 200 km in May 2009, the satellite made more than 3400 orbits around the moon and lost communication on August 29, 2009. The major discovery of the Chandrayaan-1 mission is the detection of water (H2O) and hydroxyl (OH) on the lunar surface.  The data also revealed their enhanced abundance towards the polar region.


A three colour composite of near-infrared reflected solar radiation for the lunar nearside illustrating the spatial extent of diagnostic absorption measured by M3 is shown above. Blue colour indicates 3 micron absorption associated with presence of OH/H2O. Red indicates absorption at 2 micron due to the presence of iron-bearing minerals. The green represent reflected brightness at 2.4 micron.(ISRO)

Mission Chandrayaan-1 for Remote Sensing, Planetary Science on Moon
Weight 1380 kg (Mass at lift off)
Onboard power 700 Watts
Stabilization 3 – axis stabilised using reaction wheel and attitude control thrusters, sun sensors, star sensors, fibre optic gyros and accelerometers for attitude determination.
Scientific Payloads from India

a) Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC)
b) Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI)
c) Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI)
d) High Energy X – ray Spectrometer (HEX)
e) Moon Impact Probe(MIP)

Scientific Payloads from abroad

f) Chandrayaan-I  X-ray Spectrometer (CIXS)
g) Near Infrared Spectrometer (SIR – 2)
h) Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyzer (SARA)
i) Miniature Synthetic Aperature Radar (Mini SAR)
j) Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)
k) Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM)

Launch Date 22 October 2008
Launch Site SDSC, SHAR, Sriharikota
Launch Vehicle PSLV – C11
Orbit 100 km x 100 km : Lunar Orbit
Mission life 2 years

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