On October 22, 2008, India took its very first step towards the Moon and new dawn shone over its technological progress and a 300-tonne rocket blasted into the skies from Sriharikota carrying the country’s premier lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1!
Using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11), Chandrayaan-1 orbited more than 3,400 times around the Moon and made India, the fourth country in the world, to place their flag insignia on the Moon’s surface.
On its eleventh anniversary, let us recount four major discoveries made by Chandrayaan-1 on the Moon.
The most significant result from Chandrayaan-1 is the discovery of the presence of hydroxyl (OH) and water (H2O) molecules on the lunar surface. The inference of subsurface water-ice deposits in the base of craters in permanent sun shadow, detection of possible existence of water molecules in the lunar environment, validation of Lunar Magma Ocean hypothesis, detection of reflection of 20% of solar wind protons, detection of presence of Mg, Al, Si, Ca on the lunar surface and three dimensional conceptualization of many lunar craters of interest are other scientific results from Chandrayaan-1.
Successful realization of this mission has led to all-round development in satellite technology, design, development and fabrication of a variety of experimental payloads, setting up communication, navigation and control system for going beyond the geostationary orbit, acquisition and transfer of data from lunar orbit through Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) with 18-m and 32-m antennae to ground station network and establishment of Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC) at Byalalu as the primary data center for Indian Space Science Missions.
The terrain mapping camera onboard Chandrayaan-1, besides producing more than 70,000 three dimensional images, has recorded images of the landing site of U.S. spacecraft Apollo 15.
TMC and HySI payloads of ISRO have covered about 70% of the lunar surface, while M3 covered more than 95% of the same and SIR-2 has provided high-resolution spectral data on the mineralogy of the Moon.
The Chandrayaan-1 payload has enabled scientists to study the interaction between the solar wind and a planetary body like the Moon without a magnetic field.
In its 10-month orbit around the Moon, Chandrayaan-1's X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS) detected titanium, confirmed the presence of calcium, and gathered the most accurate measurements yet of magnesium, aluminum, and iron on the lunar surface