Indian Probe Successfully Crash-Lands on the Moon

By Eliza Strickland | November 14, 2008 6:49 pm

lunar surfaceToday the entire nation of India rejoiced as the nation’s first lunar orbiter send an impact probe smashing into the moon‘s surface. As the probe was painted with the jaunty tricolor flag of India, millions of ecstatic citizens saw it as a near equivalent to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s planting of the American flag on lunar soil almost 40 years ago. “Just as we had promised, we have given India the moon,” said G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation [The Hindu].

Lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 — Chandrayaan means “moon craft” in Sanskrit — was successfully launched from southern India on October 22 and is now orbiting the moon. Its two-year mission is to take high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the moon’s surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions. It also will search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical composition of certain lunar rocks [CNN]. The Indian government has said that the $79 million mission to map the lunar surface is just a prelude to the landing of a robotic lunar rover in 2012, and a manned mission to the moon by 2020.

The probe took about 25 minutes to descend from the orbiting Chandrayaan to the rocky lunar surface, and sent back pictures, videos, and other data during its descent. It crashed near the Shackleton crater at the moon’s south pole, and the probe was probably destroyed by today’s “hard landing,” the Indian [space] agency said. Data beamed back may help engineers plan controlled landings for future missions [Bloomberg].

India’s proud accomplishment came just a few months after China’s successful manned mission into Earth orbit, and the two achievements have been heralded as signs that space flight is no longer the exclusive domain of just a few nations. China’s government has discussed a manned mission to the moon and possibly a permanent outpost there, and European and Japanese space agencies have also discussed lunar trips. In addition to government-sponsored missions, various entrepreneurs are working on landers and rovers that they say could reach the moon within a decade.

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80beats: India Joins the Space Race by Launching First Lunar Probe Tomorrow
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Image: ISRO

MORE ABOUT: India, moon, space flight
  • Muks Melbourne

    Indian space program is totally civilian and in collabaration with NASA and ESA. Ask Chinese space programs, all hidden no one knows what it does, from underground subs, to taking war in space by blowing up its own ageing satelite; now if you look at Chang’e what else world knows except 5 pictures (which does not make any sense) and a small brief.
    China has become world Authority and forcing the world to do what she wants… Asking Sarkozy not to meet The Dalai Lama, it has started medelling in internal affairs of countries, a height of new low…

    What India’s does in space science is for its growth and Bi-lateral relationship with countries unlike china.
    There is no means to compare Indians Space program and Chinese military programs,

  • Saff

    The Indian space program is pretty independent of NASA. Till now ISRO was pretty much under sanctions. ISRO had to struggle every bit of the way to do what it has done. It’s remote sensing capability and communication satellites are state of art, the Chinese don’t have satellites on the league that ISRO has developed and launched. Important thing is ISRO has returned 2 dollars for every 1 dollar spent on it’s space program. ISROs programs are much more open and shared than other countries, despite denial of technology including basic microprocessors for it’s launch vehicle. (ISRO even had to develop it’s own Vikram processor chips for the vehicle). ISRO is doing science like it is meant to be done. There is pride surely in such events, but pride is not ISROs prime motivator. Science is. Congratulations ISRO!

  • Venkat

    NASA provided access to Deep space network at Canberra, Madrid and Goldstone for Chandrayaan. Indians greatly appreciated the help given to them by NASA. ESA too helped india in Flight dynamics and data archiving. In return Indians are sharing the data with the europeans on all instruments.

    Despite that it was a great effort by us. Showing despite the lack of funds the ingenuity of indian scientists made all this possible. Very few nations have this capability.

  • Saff

    Venkat, can you please clarify what flight dynamics ISRO has learnt from ESA? Space and satellite networks have been used and offered to by many nations. It’s certainly helpful to use DSNs in US when India is turned the other way from the Moon, but the main C&C center still is ISTRAC/ Bayalu. Also if you remember ISRO changed it’s orbital plan to the classical Hohmann transfer after blasting from SHAR. Thats because it had to emperically calibrate it’s instruments in real time itself. There is nothing that ESA or NASA could possibly help in flight dynamics except maybe some proof reading type consultancy. Tell that to an ISRO person and he or she’ll feel put down the way you are putting it.

  • Sally

    Muks, I hesitate to agree with you on the Chinese space program and your attitude toward China. Each country has its own way of conducting affairs concerning itself, just as you and me have the right to say here our own ideas.You declare India develops its space program for civilian purpose, but how can judge China does not? I doubt a single person like you can tell the differences between two nations’ motivations toward their space skemes, and to say that in front of the world is not a responsible action.

  • Caven

    Crashing into the moon is like the Armstrong/Aldrin landing 40 years ago?
    I didn’t realize this fiction was comedy.

  • Neelam

    Caven, This is no comedy! Launching a moon mission at 1/10 th of NASA’s Budget is no fun I guess….Also like US, India doesnt have the privilige of having the best brains in the world who study in MITs and Caltechs…..and get generous paychecks. Indian scientists are homegrown and most have not gone to Ivys, they live on salaries which is way less than NASA’s. But I guess they just proved their innovation capabilities and their immense dedication to do science! This is no fun buddy!, certainly not a comedy!

  • Abhay Dang

    Caven, you are missing an important point here. There is a whole lot of things we don’t know about the Earth, let alone the moon. The Chandrayaan will amongst other things prepare a 3D map of the moon and look for Helium (which could be a source of clean energy in the future).

    This is no fiction. This is the reality.

  • Denitsa

    I’m glad India did what it hoped for. It was high time to see other players in the space business. Competition lead to progress.

  • Curious

    Well, the just comparison could be the Ranger series of probes previous to the Apollos…

  • Angry

    This article is humiliating for China. Please remove it.

  • Charles

    So, how do we get to view the photos of the surface scans that either China or India took. Will we see airbrushing done to them like the nasa photos?

  • ContainsCaffeine

    I’m still trying to figure out what “successfully crash-lands” means.

    But seriously, can’t we just celebrate science for science’s sake? Even if you don’t support the Chinese government (for a number of good reasons), that doesn’t mean that their scientific contributions are necessarily tainted. Should we resist scientific progress in certain countries because we don’t like their politics?


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