August 31, 2009

India moon mission terminated

India's unmanned moon mission was called off after space scientists lost radio contact with the Chandrayaan-I craft, the space agency said.

The decision was made Sunday after Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, announced there was no likelihood of retrieving the craft. The Data Documentation Initiative said the nearly $90 million maiden moon mission, launched in October 2008, ended about a year before it was scheduled to end.

We survived for 315 days which is a good record. Many such experiments have burnt within a month in the past, Nair was quoted as saying, after announcing the mission was terminated.

The Hindu newspaper reported Nair was happy scientists learned valuable lessons from the mission, adding they must look for devices less susceptible to radiation in future expeditions.

We could collect a large volume of data, including more than 70,000 images of the moon. In that sense, 95 per cent of the objective was completed, he said.

CNN said one of the objectives of the mission -- which carried payload from the United States, the European Union and Bulgaria -- was to search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical composition of certain lunar rocks.

The space agency said the next Chandrayaan-II mission remains on track for launch in the next two to three years.