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UPSC: ISRO’s MISSION TO THE MOON

MISSION TO THE MOON:

Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar probe.

It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009.

The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor.

India launched the spacecraft using a PSLV-XL rocket, serial number C11, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, about 80 km north of Chennai.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the project on course in his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2003.

The mission was a major boost to India’s space program, as India researched and developed its own technology in order to explore the Moon.

The Moon Impact Probe was released from Chandrayaan-1 at a height of 100 km.

During its 25-minute descent, Chandra’s Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHACE) recorded evidence of water in 650 mass spectra readings gathered during this time.

On 24 September 2009 Science journal reported that the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on Chandrayaan-1 had detected water ice on the Moon.

But, on 25 September 2009, ISRO announced that the MIP, another instrument on board Chandrayaan-1, had discovered water on the Moon just before impact and had discovered it 3 months before NASA’s M3.

The announcement of this discovery was not made until NASA confirmed it.

Scientists have found frozen water deposits in the darkest and coldest parts of the Moon’s polar regions using data from the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft that was launched by India 10 years ago, NASA said on Tuesday.

With enough ice sitting at the surface — within the top few millimetres — water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon, and potentially easier to access than the water detected beneath the Moon’s surface.

The ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient, according to the study published in the journal PNAS.

At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.

Scientists used data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument to identify three specific signatures that definitively prove there is water ice at the surface of the Moon.

M3, aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon.

It collected data that not only picked up the reflective properties we would expect from ice, but was also able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapour and solid ice.

Most of the new-found water ice lies in the shadows of craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures never reach above minus 156 degrees Celsius.

Due to the very small tilt of the Moon’s rotation axis, sunlight never reaches these regions.

Learning more about this ice, how it got there, and how it interacts with the larger lunar environment will be a key mission focus for NASA and commercial partners, as humans endeavour to return to and explore the Moon.

 

CHANDRAYAAN 2:

ISRO is currently developing a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan named Chandrayaan-2, which is scheduled to be launched in 2019.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to include a lander and robotic rover as a part of its second Chandrayaan mission.

The rover will be designed to move on wheels on the lunar surface, do on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the Earth via the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which will be orbiting the Moon.

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