India’s grandest venture yet into the final frontier has drawn to a close, as the Chandrayaan-I lunar probe mission has been aborted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after a communications malfunction.
Contact was lost with the probe two days ago and scientists at the ISRO were unable to restore communications, state-run broadcaster Doordarshan reported. The craft began orbiting the moon last November.
A malfunction in computers on board the spacecraft led to the failure in communications, which will be probed by a committee of scientists.
ISRO tried to send the commands but the space vehicle was not able to respond. “The power signals which go to the computer systems failed. We tried to recover the communications for the entire day yesterday.”
The mission was abandoned early on Saturday shortly after radio contact with the craft was abruptly lost at 0130 HRS.
“We don’t have contact with the spacecraft and we had to terminate the mission,” said a visibly disappointed ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair.
A NATIONAL TRIUMPH
Nair was still optimistic in his outlook and assessment of the whole mission, saying: “The mission was a great success. We survived for 315 days, which is a good record. Many such experiments have burnt within a month in the past.”
The scientist reported that 95 per cent of the Chandrayaan-I project’s objectives had been completed.
“We have found that all the instruments on the spacecraft worked satisfactorily and entire scientific instruments have performed that is how we could collect large volume of data,” Nair said.
The team was disappointed with the development, but the ISRO chief said the focus should be on the fact that they managed critical objectives, including sending the lunar probe, capturing 70,000 images of the moon and collaborating with US satellites.
The satellite is now likely to crash onto the moon’s surface. Meanwhile, ISRO is getting ready for their next project, Chandrayaan-II, scheduled to be launched in 2012.