Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 update 4: Journey over, trajectory animation, a picture of moon, how to map moon, on cost, & some moon humor

Spacecraft has reached its final circular orbit around moon.

ISRO, 12 November 2008: "Today, Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft has successfully reached its intended operational orbit at a height of about 100 km from the lunar surface. This followed a series of three orbit reduction manoeuvres conducted during the past three days". This orbit passes "over the polar regions of the moon". Two of its "11 payloads – Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) – have already been successfully switched ON."

Spacecraft will eject the "Moon Impact Probe (MIP)" on Saturday (I think) Friday evening (according to ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, quoted by Indian Express, Bombay, dated 14 November 2008). While the nature of data the probe will gather is rather technical, what is getting most publicity is an emotional event - that it will plant India's flag on moon!

Related (added 14 November 2008):
  1. A note on Moon Impact Probe.

Chandrayaan-1 trajectory animation.

Doug Ellison has posted an animation of the Chandrayaan-1's flight to moon in the form of an Apple QuickTime MOV file. [via Astronomy].

I've not yet seen the movie - so no comments on that.

Update 13 November 2008: I've now seen it. It's 82 MB download. Some great shots - yes, but it doesn't really show the trajectory taken by Chandrayaan-1 to reach moon. It's a shot of the ship taking off earth, picture of a British instrument on board, & some close flybys of moon. But the most interesting thing is the feel of space - I'm sure it doesn't quite show the real emptyness, but this approximation is what made it worth the download time.

Related (added 14 November 2008):
  1. Chandrayaan-1 Project Director answers some questions on trajectory.
  2. Some speculation on its trajectory.
  3. Trajectory schematic.
  4. Some initial notes on trajectory.

A picture of moon.

Couple of days back, ISRO had posted this picture of moon taken on 4 November 2008 from a distance of 3,11,200 km (note this click-location is rather close to earth). Click image for full sized original.
Picture of moon, clicked by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft on 4 November 2008 from a distance of 311200 km

Related (added 14 November 2008):
  1. Pictures of earth.

How will Chandrayaan-1 make a 3D map of moon?

R Prasad tells us "How Chandrayaan-1 will help compile a 3D atlas" of moon, at The Hindu newspaper of Madras. The article is based on the correspondent's interactions with "Dr. Kiran Kumar A.S., Deputy Director, Sensor Development Area, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad." This Ahmedabad lab is where the "Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) on-board Chandrayaan-1 " was developed. I'm not clear how Dr Kumar relates to the team that built TMC - whether he was actually involved in the development project, or he's just a media communications man.

Among the various tidbits:
  1. It can work only a third of the time due to some solar illumination considerations - in a 60 days window every 6 months.
  2. Its 4k pixel digital camera clicks 3 pictures of each pixel from different angles - to overcome occlusion: "regions on slope where the viewing angle is smaller than the slope is not occluded, as the image of the slope will be available by the third view."
  3. Each pixel represents 5m by 5m of lunar land.
  4. 4k pixels clicked together are in a line along the axis of the orbit - that's 4k * 5m = 20 km x 5m stretch at each click.
  5. Along the orbital direction, "An area of 1.5 km of the moon is imaged in one second."
Related (added 14 November 2008):
  1. Mapping magnetic anomalies, radioactivity, & water ice.
  2. How is the "whole moon" mapped from a single orbit?
  3. Mapping objectives of the mission.

Another perspective on Chandrayaan-1 cost.

A little after the current government in Delhi came to power, a Bombay newspaper ran a feature on the cost to taxpayer of our fat government. One item I remember was a table listing the market value of the bungalow of may be a half dozen senior ministers & members of parliament - each between Rs 90-110 cr!! If Delhi has seen the real estate value escalation that Bombay has seen during the last 4 years, each of these would now command a market price of may be Rs 200 cr!

Compare that with Chandrayaan-1 cost: Rs 380 cr. Yes - it's a lot of money. But any 2 of those mansions could have funded this project!

Related (added 14 November 2008):
  1. Chnadrayaan-3 (manned landing in 2015) estimated cost: Rs 1200 cr.
  2. External objections on Chandrayaan-1 expense, & my take on its cost justification!
  3. Couple of other ways of looking at its cost.
  4. Cost comparisons with foreign moon missions.

Benefits of going to moon (humor)!

This is for readers comfortable with written Hindi.

Some low-end jokes about the benefits of going to moon, in this Episode 15 of the serialized Hindi novel "Taboot" by Zeashan Zaidi.

Whole novel - i.e., the episodes published so far - is available here. Not quite top class, but very light read & arrives in installments that take only a few minutes to read. Its new episodes are among the fiction my Bot SF feed automatically picks up & delivers to inbox.

Novel is advertised a humorous science fiction. While I've seen humor, science fiction part is probably yet to come. 3 cranky guys from (I think) Delhi on a treasure hunt (I think) somewhere in Assam.

What next?

  1. All Chandrayaan posts.
  2. All moon posts, including fiction set on moon. A-rated stories probably won't disappoint. For free fiction, search for "full text" (without quotes). Or browse through all free fiction posts, including stories unrelated to moon.
  3. Subscribe to Variety SF master feed, Chandrayaan feed, or moon posts feed.