On November 14, 2008, Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Impact Probe (MIP) landed on the lunar surface, at 20:31 IST, after detaching from the Chandrayaan-1.
For all of you who have been hearing about the Indian flag fluttering on the moon – that’s technically wrong. There is no Indian flag fluttering on the moon. It is the media just going all poetic about it. The Moon Impactor crashed into the moon at a high speed and was destroyed – that is what it was supposed to do, and that’s what it did.
This story is about science and space research, not poetry. It was a brilliant success. Maybe in the future we would have a moon lander that would land on the moon and actually plant a flag there, but that’s not what has happened just now.
The cuboid MIP had the Indian tricolor painted on all its sides, and descended 100 kms to reach the desired location. Chandrayaan-1’s MIP crashlanded near the Moon’s South Polar region.
The Chandrayaan-1 MIP, which was mean to demonstrate and test technologies related to probe landings on the lunar surface, has sent high quality images of the moon. The 35-kg MIP carried three instruments: a video imaging system, a radar altimeter and a high resolution mass spectrometer.
The video imaging system provided vital pictures of the lunar surface from the descending probe, while the radar altimeter measured the rate of descent of the MIP. The mass spectrometer was used to measure the components of a very thin lunar atmosphere as the MIP descended to the lunar surface.
The MIP detached from Chandrayaan-1 at 20:06 IST and took 25 minutes to reach the lunar surface.
According to ISRO, after the Moon Impact Probe separated from Chandrayaan-1, spin up rockets were fired after it reached a safe distance of separation from Chandrayaan-1. Following that the MIP lost velocity with the firing of its retro rocket and started its rapid descent towards the lunar surface. Once the descent started, the video imaging system of the MIP was activated.
The images sent by the MIP will help ISRO determine landing sites for future missions, including that of Chandrayaan-2’s rover.
The MIP provided information to Chandrayaan-1 by MIP, which was recorded by Chandrayaan-1 in its onboard memory for later readout.
Finally, the MIP crashlanded on the moon’s surface and ceased to function.
ISRO was quoted as saying, “We are analysing the images and other data sent by MIP. We are also getting ready to switch on and test the remaining eight payloads (scientific instruments) of the spacecraft in the coming few days.”
With the inclusion of the MIP, three of Chandrayaan-1’s eleven payloads are now functional, the first two being the Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) that were switched on during Chandrayaan-1’s journey to the moon.
The remaining eight payloads will be switched on by the end of November 2008.
The eleven payloads of Chandrayaan-1 include five from India and six from International agencies. Three of the international payloads are from the European Space Agency (ESA) , one from the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency (BSA), and two from NASA.
The five Indian payloads comprise a terrain mapping camera (TMC) to map the topography of the moon, a Hyper Spectral Imager for mineralogical mapping, Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument for capturing surface topography, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, a High Energy X-ray/gamma ray spectrometer for measuring degassing, and the MIP.
The international payloads include the Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser for mapping composition, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a near infrared spectrometer, miniSAR, and RADOM-7 that will map the radiation environment around the moon.
The Terrain Mapping Camera is a CCD camera, used to produce a high-resolution map of the Moon, works in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum and takes black and white stereo images.
Chandrayaan-1 was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre ( SDSC) in Sriharikota, India, by PSLV-C11 on October 22, 2008.