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     Pecobian behind the Moon Impact Probe

Thanks to PECOSA President Dr. Dharinder Tayal for sharing this yet another great achievement by one of our alumni members. The brain behind the design of MIP (Moon Impact Probe ) which successfully crashed on the moon surface is none other than Mr. Madan Lal, an Aeronautical Engineering graduate from Class of 1969. Congratulations to Mr. Madan Lal for this great achievement.

Click here for more information on MIP.

Here is the latest on the MIP progress:

ScienceDaily, Nov. 29, 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.

The probe was released from the spacecraft at 15:36 CET (20:06 Indian Standard Time), on 14 November and took 25 minutes to reach the surface. As it descended, the probe transmitted pictures to the orbiter that were later downloaded to Earth.

The Terrain Mapping Camera, TMC, and the Radiation Dose Monitor, RADOM, were functional by that time on the orbiter. After the impact of the probe, the remaining orbiter instruments were switched on consecutively for their commissioning activities.

During commissioning all standard operating modes of an instrument are exercised and the data and housekeeping parameters are examined to verify that everything is working properly.

The European near-infrared spectrometer SIR-2 was commissioned successfully on 19 November. The instrument was switched on and sent back housekeeping data indicating normal functionality. Science observations were started successfully on 20 November.

The Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer, C1XS, was first activated on 23 November, and its commissioning is in progress.

The Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser, SARA will be commissioned from 7 to 10 December. The commissioning for this instrument will take longer than usual because the instrument operates at a high-voltage, which will be increased in steps.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to venture beyond Earth orbit, was launched on 22 October 2008. The mission is led by ISRO. ESA has coordinated and supported the provision of the three European instruments on board (C1XS, SARA, SIR-2), and assisted ISRO in areas such as flight dynamics and is supporting data archiving and processing. As a result of the collaboration, ESA and ISRO will share the data from their respective instruments. Other international partners in the mission include Bulgaria and the USA.

Below is the new piece dated 10/23/2008 from The Telegraph providing details on MIP before the launch:

Chennai, October 21st 2008

The 11 scientific payloads aboard Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar orbiter, will include one instrument about the size of a 21-inch TV carton which is headed for a suicide mission to the moon.

The 29kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP), designed by a team led by aeronautical engineer Madan Lal at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, will be hurled by the orbiter towards the moon for a 20-minute descent and crash.

Although the moon has only one-sixth the gravity of Earth, the fall will be hard and wreck the probe. Lal has calculated that the probe is likely to strike the lunar surface at 1.8km per second and be smashed into pieces.

If Chandrayaan-1 reaches the lunar orbit and releases the probe, scientists believe India’s first imprint on the moon will be a spray of electronic innards and metallic pieces of the probe scattered on the lunar surface.

“It won’t survive the crash,” said Lal, 61, who retired last year from the Thiruvananthapuram centre after serving there for 39 years. But the kamikaze act of the MIP will help the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) prepare for its second lunar mission — a lunar lander.

The MIP has three instruments — a radar altimeter to indicate its height from the lunar surface, a video camera that will transmit pictures of the surface as it falls towards it, and a mass spectrometer, an instrument to study the constituents of space just above the lunar surface.

Isro hopes to launch Chandrayaan-1 on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle at 6.22am tomorrow from the Sriharikota island launch pad.

The spacecraft will release the MIP only when it has reached its intended 100km orbit above the lunar surface. A rocket motor on the MIP will first decelerate the probe and allow it to be captured by the moon’s gravity.

The other 10 payloads on Chandrayaan-1 will help generate a three-dimensional atlas and chemical map of the lunar surface during the orbiter’s planned two-year life in lunar orbit.


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