Chennai–India first embarked on inter-planetary mission in 2008 with its first moon operation Chandrayaan-1 — ‘Chandra’ meaning the moon and ‘Yaan’ meaning a vehicle in Sanskrit and Hindi.
The Rs 386 crore mission laid the foundation for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission in terms of technologies and also the infrastructure for future deep space missions.
For instance, the communication to and from the satellites would be very difficult. The Moon satellite would be orbiting at 3,86,000 km from the Earth — over 10 times the distance at which communication satellites orbit, said M. Annadurai, under whose supervision the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was designed.
As a result, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) developed far more advanced communication sensors to receive and transmit signals.
“That apart, the spacecraft was not visible to the tracking officials of ISRO and the last manoeuvre was successfully done without seeing Chandrayaan-1. This experience helped us during the Mars mission,” Annadurai added.
On October 22, 2008, the 1,380 kg Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was carried by Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and successfully put it into the orbit.
The spacecraft made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon. Chandrayaan-1 was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009, when its star sensors were damaged by heat.
The spacecraft carried 11 experimental payloads, five Indian and six foreign — European Space Agency (3), USA (2) and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1).
India became the fourth country in the world to hit the Moon’s surface when the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) landed on the lunar surface.
The MIP, with the Tricolour painted on all four sides, took about 25 minutes to descend 100 km from Chandrayaan-1 to hit the moon’s surface.
The Chandrayaan-1 conclusively discovered traces of water on the Moon, a pathbreaking discovery.
Chandrayaan-1 also discovered water ice in the North Polar region of the Moon.
It also detected magnesium, aluminium and silicon on the lunar surface. Global imaging of the Moon is another achievement of this mission.
Eight years after it was considered lost, NASA scientists rediscovered India’s first lunar probe still orbiting the Moon in 2017. The scientists found Chandrayaan-1 using a new ground-based radar technique.
Break up of the Rs.3.86 billion Chandrayaan-1 mission bill:
Deep Space Network: Rs 1 billion ($20 million)
Rocket: Rs 1 billion ($20 million)
Payload development: Rs 530 million ($11 million)
Spacecraft bus: Rs 830 million ($17 million)
Scientific data centre, external network support and project management: Rs 500 million ($10 million) (IANS)