Sometime in the next few months it is expected that India’s first lunar spacecraft is set to crash into the Moon. You may at first be surprised to know that India has a space exploration program. Even more surprised to realise that India had carried out a successful scientific probe to the Moon.
India today has one of the stronger emerging space programs with a strong remote sensing satellite capability, including a developing lunar and human space efforts.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayaan-1 on the 22 October 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, southern India. On November 8 2008 it entered into orbit around the Moon.
The cultural and political significance of Chandrayaan-1 was realised on November 14. This is the birthday of the late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s 1st Prime Minister. Nehru, as Prime Minister, supported and initiated the Indian space program in 1962 and the Indian Space Research Organisation.
On this day (IST) the Moon Impact Probe became the first Indian built object to reach the surface of the Moon. The probe was a 34kg box-shaped object containing a video image system, radar altimeter, and mass spectrometer. This can be contrasted with the 899kg Martian Space Laboratory rover Curiosity, currently on its way to Mars.
During the mission the many images were taken of the lunar landscape.
One of the great successes of this mission, from a scientific perspective, was the detection of water ice on the Moon for the first time, announced on August 21 2009.