November 14, 2008

Indian Probe Lands on Moon

Moon Impact Probe
Image: ISRO

Chandrayaan-1 has touched down on the Moon at 8:31 P.M. (Indian Standard Time, 3:01 P.M. GMT) on Friday, November 14, 2008. The date was deliberately chosen to be Children's Day in India, and also the birthday of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. It landed near the south pole of the Moon.

A few days earlier, the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft began orbiting the Moon, and released the Moon Impact Probe (MIP), aboard it, once the spacecraft achieved its final 100 km orbit around the Moon. The probe's descent was captured on video by the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and the video was transmitted to ISRO's (Indian Space Research Organization) command centre. Four Indian flags were painted on four sides of the probe, and the landing makes India only the fourth nation to have put its flag on the Moon.

The MIP, with a mass of about 34 kg, included three instruments inside: a video imaging system, a radar altimeter, and a mass spectrometer. The video imaging system provided pictures of the Moon as the MIP made its 25 minute journey down to the Moon. The radar altimeter gave the altitude and rate of descent of the lander, and the mass spectrometer studied the lunar atmosphere, which is very thin.

Rockets on the MIP started to fire as the probe approached the Moon, to soften the landing. The mission concluded with a hard landing on the lunar surface which provided a successful ending of one of the most important phases of the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

ISRO's news report.

MIP landing
Animation: ISRO

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