Chandrayaan-1?s first 3-D Moon photo soon

Sunday, November 16, 2008, 6:10 by Tech Correspondent

Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Impact Probe (MIP) sent the first high quality images of the moon’s surface on November 14, 2008.

First 3-D image of the Moon sent by Chandrayaan-1

Now, Chandrayaan-1’s Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) will send the first three-dimensional (3-D) photo of the Moon’s terrain, on November 17, 2008.

The Terrain Mapping Camera is a CCD camera that is meant to produce a high-resolution map of the Moon. The TMC works in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum and takes black and white stereo images.

M. Annadurai, project director of Chandrayaan-1, has been quoted as saying, “This is the next big event for the mission. This stereoscopic image, with its five-metre resolution, will set Chandrayaan-1 apart from the previous lunar missions, and will be one of its most important contributions to science.”

The first 3-D image of the Moon will be taken around the Moon’s equator. The 3-D image of the Moon will be created by the pictures taken by the TMC’s three cameras. By 2010, detailed images collected by the TMC will be cobbled together to create the first Moon globe.

ISRO has said the images of the Moon taken by the TMC will be the clearest images of the Moon taken so far.

Previously, the clearest images of the Moon were taken by the Kaguya, the Japanese probe sent earlier in 2008.

3-D image of the lunar surface taken by Japanese orbiter Kaguya

3-D image of the lunar surface taken by Japanese probe Kaguya

3-D image of the Moon's terrain sent by China's Chang'e-1 lunar orbiter
3-D image of the Moon’s terrain sent by China’s Chang’e-1 lunar orbiter

So far the TMC has sent a picture of the Earth and two pictures of the Lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-1’s Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC)

The TMC is one of the payloads of Chandrayaan-1 that was switched on during Chandrayaan-1’s journey to the moon. The TMC cameras have been taking images of the Moon since November 13, 2008.

ISRO has said that the TMC cameras would be driven by the condition of illumination. They would work for two months continuously, with a gap of six months in between.

Apart from the TMC, two other payloads of Chandrayaan-1 have been switched on so far: the Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) and the Moon Impact Probe (MIP).

Chandrayaan-1’s payloads that are yet to be switched on

Chandrayaan-1’s remaining eight payloads will be switched on by the end-November 2008. These payloads are:

  1. HySI or Hyper Spectral Imager
  2. LLRI or Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument
  3. C1XS or X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  4. HEX is a High Energy X-ray/gamma ray spectrometer
  5. SARA, The Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser
  6. M3, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper
  7. SIR-2, A near infrared spectrometer
  8. miniSAR

On November 16, one of the five Indian payloads, the Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI) will be switched on. The main function of the HySI is to create a mineralogical map of the Moon’s surface, in the 400-900 nm band with a spectral resolution of 15 nm and a spatial resolution of 80 m.

The images taken by the HySI in conjunction with the images taken by the TMC, will help to determine the exact location of the minerals found on the Lunar surface.

Images that will be taken by the TMC in the future

In 2009, the TMC will send a high-resolution, 3-D photo of the Moon’s terrain that will give an extremely detailed view of the Moon’s surface, marking exact locations of the craters and mountains on the Moon.

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