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A Look at the Chandrayaan-2 Payloads September 12, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-2, Indian Space Research Organization, Roscosmos , add a comment

Last week, the scientific payloads that’ll be on board the orbiter and rover of the Chandrayaan-2 mission were announced!

Following the accomplishments of its historic first orbiter mission, India’s ISRO is partnering with Russia’s Roscosmos on a combined orbiter-lander-rover mission slated for 2013.

As it was NASA’a M3 Mapper and Mini-RF on board the Chandrayaan-1 that made two of the great lunar water discoveries (molecules in soil and massive amounts of water ice at the north pole), one of these 7 instruments (as reported by the Times of India) could very well be the one to make the next big lunar splash…

Orbiter

1. Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer and Solar X-ray monitor (XSM).

2. L and S band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).

“…for probing the first few tens of metres of the lunar surface for the presence of different constituents, including water ice. SAR is expected to provide further evidence confirming the presence of water ice below the shadowed regions of the moon…” – “Payloads for Chandrayaan-2 finalised, to carry 7 instruments”, The Times of India

3. Imaging IR Spectrometer (IIRS).

“…for mapping of lunar surface over a wide wavelength range for the study of minerals, water molecules and hydroxyl present…”- The Times of India

4. Neutral Mass Spectrometer (ChACE-2)

“…to carry out a detailed study of the lunar exosphere.” -The Times Of India

5. Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2)

“…for preparing a three-dimensaional map essential for studying the lunar mineralogy and geology.” -The Times of India

Rover

1. Laser induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).

2. Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope (APIXS).

It’s interesting to note that, unlike on the Chandrayaan-1, none of these seven instruments are international:  they’re all ISRO, even on the Russian-built rover.

A quote from a September 5th interview with former ISRO chairman Srinivas Laxman, also from the India Times:

A significant aspect of Chandrayaan-2 is that the orbiter, unlike in Chandrayaan-1, does not have any foreign payloads even though NASA and the European Space Agency showed interest. Is there any reason why foreign payloads have been removed?

As per the present plan we do not have any weight in the orbiter for foreign payloads. We were keen on giving an opportunity to our scientists.”- “‘We’re Launching Chandrayaan-2 for a Total Coverage of the Moon’”, The Times of India

Also of note, four of the seven instruments have connections to either helium-3 or water, which look to both be potentially valuable resources.

Is India getting serious about a headstart on them?

Tons Of Water Ice Found at Lunar North Pole! March 1, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan-1, NASA, Odyssey Moon, Polar ice, water , 1 comment so far

NASA’s Mini-RF instrument on India’s Chandryaan-1 orbiter has revealed, like the LCROSS ‘moon bombing’ and NASA’s other Chandrayaan probe (the M3before it, evidence of water on the moon.

This time, it’s at least 600 million metric tons (!!) of ice deposits in craters at the lunar north pole—an enormous number! By comparison, the LCROSS impact turned up about 100kg of water (~22 gallons). Essentially this means that like Cabeus in the South, the ‘40 or more‘ permanently-shadowed craters investigated at the lunar north pole harbor that kind of ice.

“The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought.”- Paul Spudis, principal investigator of the Mini-SAR experiment at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (and chief lunar scientist of Google Lunar X PRIZE team Odyssey Moon); “Tons of Water Ice Found on the Moon’s North Pole”, Space.com

This should mean that the North Pole—and any permanently-shadowed crater—should have any lunar prospectors (human, robotic, or otherwise) salivating.

Santa (as reported by Apollo 8) better like company… :)

It's Official: NASA Reveals Water Discovered on the Moon! September 24, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, NASA, water , 1 comment so far

As rumored, NASA announced today that three different spacecraft have detected water molecules on the Moon (the first-ever confirmation!).

NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument on board India’s Chandrayaan-1 made the discovery, assisted in confirmation by the Cassini and Epoxi spacecrafts. The water and hydroxyl-bearing materials were found in a relatively young polar crater that faces away from Earth. The results were analyzed by scientists working at Brown University (in Providence, Rhode Island—a state I hold dear to my heart :) ).

Check out the press release for all the initial background and details :)

Fun fact: NASA originally got a hint of this water evidence back in 1999, on Cassini’s first pass, but did not publish those results until confirmation now.

Rumors: NASA/ISRO Have Discovered Evidence of Lots of Water (!), Press Conference Thursday September 21, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, water , add a comment

NASA Watch reports rumors abound that NASA’s M3 Mineralogy Mapper on board India’s concluded Chandrayaan-1mission has turned up evidence that there is not just water ice on the Moon, but lots of it!

NASA has a press conference set for Thursday at 2pm. NASA also alluded to potential water ice results in their press release from the other day on the beginning of the LRO’s mapping, so stay tuned, NASA might be on to something, and on it fierce…

Chandrayaan-1′s Demise Due to ‘Heat Stroke’ September 7, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan-1, Indian Space Research Organization , add a comment

More details have been revealed regarding the demise of the Chandrayaan-1, via The Times of India.

A move of the craft from 100k to 200km in its lunar orbit back in May, originally described as being for a better view of the lunar surface, was actually in response to overheating (as some suspected at the time). Built to anticipate a temperature of 75 degrees celsius at the 100km level, the temperature was actually higher than that, causing  a long series of issues with equipment.

For the full account of the craft’s slow demise, check out the original Times article.

Chandrayaan-1 Restrospective September 3, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan-1 , add a comment

With India having ended it’s Chandrayaan-1 mission this week (much earlier than its two years, due to losing contact with the craft), it’s time for a retrospective on its accomplishments:

The key, lasting impacts of the mission I believe are intertwined: putting India on the lunar map, and the research into helium-3 quantities. With a bursting population, India is a natural candidate to have serious interest in fusion power as a solution to future energy stresses—and the Chandrayaan program is essentially a signal that India is in the lunar ‘helium rush’ for real.

Here’s a video on Chandrayaan-1 with some neat interviews with people from the ISRO itself; and for details on some of the craft’s instruments, check out my series of features on its payloads.

India Ends Chandrayaan-1 Orbiter's Mission After Losing Contact August 31, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan-1, Indian Space Research Organization , add a comment

India’s ISRO has decided to end its Chandrayaan-1 orbiter mission after losing contact 2 days ago.

Launched in October last year, this marks a somewhat premature end to the mission, but not before collecting a significant amount of data.

I’ll have a full retrospective up in a few days, as eyes turn to India’s next effort, an unmanned rover (in collaboration with Russia) called simply Chandrayaan-2

Chandrayaan-1 Payload Feature #5: X-Ray Spectrometer (C1XS) February 2, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-1 Payload Features, Indian Space Research Organization , add a comment

Today is the fifth in a series of features on each of the Indian lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1’s scientific payloads. The Chandrayaan-1 has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA).

For this edition, we look at one of the international payloads that made news last month– the ESA‘s Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS).

Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS)

The C1XS (pronounced like “kicks”) is, as a spectrometer, a device to measure the electronic structure of materials—in this case, the lunar surface.

This kind of imaging helps determine what the Moon is composed of. Nancy Atkinson at UniverseToday.com provided an excellent description of the above chart in her great article on the device’s first results:

“The red curve shows the combined signal from all 24 C1XS X-ray detectors during the solar flare at 02:35-02:38 UT on Dec. 12th. The black dashed line shows the normal background signal detected by C1XS. The three “fingers” sticking up between 1 and 2 keV are due to the presence of the elements magnesium, aluminium and silicon (left to right) on the Moon. ” -Nancy Atkinson, UniverseToday.com, “Chandrayaan-1 Instrument Detects First X-ray Signature from Moon

Silicon, while not as high-profile as helium-3 in regards to the Moon, is a substance seen as having some lunar mining potential. It’s used most notably for solar panels, which are (of course) critical to lunar colonies.

These kinds of results over time will go a long way towards figuring out how the Moon was formed, and more about its selenographic nature in general.

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Keep checking back here for more payload features, Chandrayaan-1 news, and a complete wealth of updates and information about the base race, private space boom, and everything else under the Moon :)

Chandrayaan-1 Payload Feature #4: Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (RADOM) December 8, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Bulgaria, Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-1 Payload Features, Indian Space Research Organization, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, NASA, radiation , add a comment

Today is the fourth in a series of features on each of the Indian lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1′s scientific payloads. The Chandrayaan-1 has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA).

For this edition, we look at the Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment, or RADOM, which is from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (RADOM)

The RADOM is essentially looking to get results (like those pictured above) on just how much radiation there is in lunar orbit and around the surface, so future moon missions have a clearer image if just how much radiation protection is needed.

Radiation is a serious problem for potential colonists, and as that article notes, NASA is including radiation experiments in its own lunar orbiter mission, the LRO (coming next year).

“”We really need to know more about the radiation environment on the Moon, especially if people will be staying there for more than just a few days,” says Harlan Spence, a professor of astronomy at Boston University.”
-“Radioactive Moon”, by Patrick L. Barry, NASA

The Apollo astronauts were never out in the radiation for long, so creative solutions are needed to shield long-term settlement. But, first, it needs to be known just how much radiation there is to shield from; and the RADOM is a big step towards that.

For all the full scientific details on the payload straight from the Bulgarians, check out this document. :)
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Keep checking back here for more payload features, Chandrayaan-1 news, and a complete wealth of updates and information about the base race, private space boom, and everything else with the true introduction of Man to Luna :)

Chandrayaan-1 Payload Feature #3: Moon Impact Probe (MIP) November 22, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-1 Payload Features, Indian Space Research Organization , add a comment

Today is the third in a series of features on each of India‘s recently-launched Chandrayaan-1‘s scientific payloads. The Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA).

The Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA). For this edition, we look at an Indian payload that made headlines with its recent success: the Moon Impact Probe (MIP).

Moon Impact Probe (MIP)

The 35kg MIP was designed to demonstrate, through its 25-minute flight to the lunar surface from the Chandrayaan orbiter, technologies for making both soft and hard landings (the MIP’s descent was a hard landing, hitting the surface of the Moon at a solid 3,100 miles an hour). Arriving on the lunar surface at 20:06 on November 14th, 2008, the MIP delivered an Indian tricolor flag (on its hull) to Luna.

The MIP itself had three payloads of its own:

All in all, the MIP was a great success, making India one of the select few nations to have landed (hard or soft) a craft on the moon.

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Keep checking back here for more payload features, Chandrayaan-1 news, and a complete wealth of news and information about the private space boom and ‘base race’ :)