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ISRO loses radio contact with Chandrayaan 1

CNN-IBN
Aug 29, 2009 at 07:23pm IST

New Delhi/Bangalore: Scientists have lost radio contact with Chandrayaan 1, India’s space mission to the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) abruptly lost radio contact with the unmanned spacecraft at around 0130 hrs IST on Friday. Data was last received from spacecraft shortly after midnight.

"The mission is definitely over. We have lost contact with the spacecraft," Project Director of the Chandrayaan-1 mission M Annadurai told PTI.

"It (Chandrayaan-1) has done its job technically--100 per cent. Scientifically also, it has done almost 90-95 percent of its job," said Annadurai.

S Satish, director of ISRO’s public relations, earlier told CNN-IBN scientists were unable to know what is happening to the spacecraft because of the snag. He said ISRO was not in communication with Chandrayaan 1 and was unable to determine what was happening to the spacecraft after the radio link was lost.

“We are not able to establish communication with the spacecraft--that is what we mean by loss of radio link. It is some sort of serious problem,” said Satish.

"We are not able to establish communication with the spacecraft, so we are not able to know what is happening to the spacecraft. This anomaly is being analysed from the data received last,” he said.

An ISRO press release in Bangalore said the spacecraft had fulfilled most of its scientific objectives. "The spacecraft has completed 312 days in orbit, making over 3,400 orbits around the moon and providing large volume of data from sophisticated sensors like terrain mapping camera, hyper-spectral imager, moon mineralogy mapper and so on, meeting most of the scientific objectives of the mission," the statement said.

"The contact was lost at 0130 IST as the deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore, received the data from the lunarcraft during the previous orbit up to 00.25 IST," it said.

In February 2009, a “prime sensor” of the spacecraft developed a snag. The device enables scientists to determine altitude and forced its failure forced ISRO to push the spacecraft’s orbit from 100 km to 200 km from the moon's surface. The change in orbit means the data would be of lower quality.

Chandrayaan was launched in October 2008 to map a three-dimensional atlas of the moon, and the surface's chemical and mineral composition.

India plans to send an astronaut into space by 2014 and a manned mission to the moon by 2020. The Government has approved the launch of Chandrayaan-2, which is expected to take off between 2010 and 2012, and will include a rover that will land on the moon.

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