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NASA-Funded Scientists Detect Water on Moon's Surface that Hints at Water Below

Chandrayaan-1 image of water on the Moon surface. Credits: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Brown Univ

NASA-funded lunar research has yielded evidence of water locked in mineral grains on the surface of the moon from an unknown source deep beneath the surface.

Hydrogen offers a new way to study the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 SARA measurements of hydrogen flux. Credits: Elsevier and ESA/ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 16.10.2009]
The Moon is a surprisingly strong source of hydrogen atoms. That is the surprise discovery from ESA-ISRO instrument SARA onboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. It gives scientists an interesting new way to study both the Moon and any other airless bodies in the Solar System.

According to conventional wisdom, the lunar surface is a loose collection of irregular dust grains. Any particle that hits it should bounce between the grains and be absorbed. But the new results clearly show that one out of every five protons incoming from the solar wind rebounds from the Moon’s surface. In the process, the proton joins with an electron to become an atom of hydrogen.

NASA Instruments Reveal Water Molecules on Lunar Surface

Chandrayaan-1 image of water on the Moon surface. Credits: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Brown Univ

[NASA Press Release - 24.09.2009]
NASA scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon. Instruments aboard three separate spacecraft revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small. Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, also was found in the lunar soil. The findings were published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

Chandrayaan-I Spacecraft Loses Radio Contact

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 29.08.2009]
Radio contact with Chandrayaan-I spacecraft was abruptly lost at 0130 Hrs (IST) on August 29, 2009. Deep Space Network at Byalalu near Bangalore received the data from Chandrayaan-I during the previous orbit upto 0025 Hrs (IST).

Detailed review of the Telemetry data received from the spacecraft is in progress and health of the spacecraft subsystems is being analysed.

ISRO-NASA Joint Experiment To Search for Water Ice on the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 21.08.2009]
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NASA performed a unique joint experiment today (Aug. 21, 2009), that could yield additional information on the possibility of existence of ice in a permanently shadowed crater near the North pole of the moon. Known as Bi-Static Experiment, it involved ISROs Chandrayaan-1 and NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. Currently, Chandrayaan-1 and LRO are orbiting the Moon. The two spacecraft passed close enough to one another when they were over the lunar North pole to attempt this interesting experiment.

The Orbit of Chandrayaan-1 Raised

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 20.05.2009]
After the successful completion of all the major mission objectives, the orbit of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, which was at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface since November 2008, has now been raised to 200 km. The orbit raising manoeuvres were carried out between 0900 and 1000 hrs IST on May 19, 2009. ?The spacecraft in this higher altitude will enable further studies on orbit perturbations, gravitational field variation of the Moon and also enable imaging lunar surface with a wider swath.

Chandrayaan-1 starts observations of the Moon

Moon surface imaged by Chandrayaan-1. Credits: ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 24.11.2008]
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 released a probe that impacted close to the lunar south pole on 14 November. Following this, the instruments on the spacecraft are being switched on to get the science observations started.

The Moon Impact Probe was dropped close to Shackleton crater, a place close to the south pole, where ice may exist in areas that are never illuminated by the Sun. It carried three instruments: a video imaging system, a radar altimeter and a mass spectrometer. The imaging system took pictures of the Moon as it approached the surface, the radar was used to determine the altitude, and the mass spectrometer was used to study the thin lunar atmosphere.

LASER instrument on Chandrayaan-1 successfully turned on

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 16.11.2008]
Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI), one of the 11 scientific instruments (payloads) carried by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, has successfully been turned ON today (November 16, 2008). The instrument was switched ON when the spacecraft was passing over western part of the moon’s visible hemisphere. Preliminary assessment of the data from LLRI by ISRO scientists indicates that the instrument’s performance is normal. LLRI sends pulses of infrared laser light towards a strip of lunar surface and detects the reflected portion of that light. With this, the instrument can very accurately measure the height of moon’s surface features. LLRI will be continuously kept ON and takes 10 measurements per second on both day and night sides of the moon. It provides topographical details of both polar and equatorial regions of the moon. Detailed analysis of the data sent by LLRI helps in understanding the internal structure of the moon as well as the way that celestial body evolved.

Indian Tricolour Placed on the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 14.11.2008]
In a historic event, the Indian space programme achieved a unique feat today (November 14, 2008) with the placing of Indian tricolour on the Moon’s surface on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday. The Indian flag was painted on the sides of Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of the 11 payloads of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, that successfully hit the lunar surface today at 20:31 hrs (8:31 pm) IST. This is the first Indian built object to reach the surface of the moon. The point of MIP’s impact was near the Moon’s South Polar Region. It may be recalled that the modern Indian space programme was initiated in 1962 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India.

Chandrayaan-1 Successfully Reaches its Operational Lunar Orbit

[ISRO Press Release - 12.11.2008]
Today, Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft has successfully reached its intended operational orbit at a height of about 100 km from the lunar surface. This followed a series of three orbit reduction manoeuvres conducted during the past three days by repeatedly firing the spacecraft’s 440 Newton Liquid Engine. As part of these manoeuvres, the engine was fired for a cumulative duration of about sixteen minutes. As a result of these manoeuvres, the farthest point of Chandrayaan-1’s orbit (aposelene) from the moon’s surface was first reduced from 7,502 km to 255 km and finally to 100 km while the nearest point (periselene) was reduced from 200 km to 182 km and finally to 100 km.

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