Bangalore: India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft today lost contact with Isro’s ground station, putting a question mark on the fate of country’s maiden moon mission launched in October last year.
“We are not able to establish contact with the spacecraft. We are not getting the data. We are not able to send commands,” an Isro official said.
“In simple terms, the spacecraft has become dumb.It can’t speak”, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Isro spokesperson S Satish said based on the data obtained till its previous orbit at 0025 hours today, health of the spacecraft was being analysed and it was expected to throw more light on the problem.
Space Agency officials said it appeared that India’s moon mission was virtually over. Isro does not have “much hope” on its continuation, the officials said.
Isro said radio contact with Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was abruptly lost at 0130 hours today. Deep Space Network at Byalalu near here received the data from Chandrayaan-1 during the previous orbit up to 0025 hours.
Detailed review of the telemetry data from the spacecraft is in progress and health of the spacecraft sub-systems being analysed.
Chandrayaan-1 was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on the eastern coast on 22 October last year.
The spacecraft has completed 312 days in orbit, making more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and providing large volume of data from sophisticated sensors like terrain mapping camera, hyper-spectral imager and moon mineralogy mapper, meeting most of the scientific objectives of the mission, space agency officials said.
Radio contact loss with Chandrayaan-1 comes just over four months after the onboard star sensor used for determining the orientation of the spacecraft started malfunctioning (on 26 April)
To overcome this anomaly, Isro devised an innovative technique for using redundant sensors gyroscopes along with antenna pointing information and images of specific location on the surface of the moon, for determining the orientation of the spacecraft.
This method had been validated and based on this information, mission operations were being carried out till early today satisfactorily. Along with star sensor failure,one of the bus management units had also failed then.
Isro Chairman G Madhavan Nair said in an interview earlier this month that 95% of the scientific objectives of the Chandrayaan-1 mission had been achieved.
“Another 5%, what’s left out, we will try to take up in the next season which is starting in October so that we can complete all the observations”, he had said.
Isro had convened a meeting of scientists next month to “ensure it has not left out anything. Today, we know that there is no redundancy on board. So, if further failure....if it happens, then we will be crippled,” he had said.
There were 11 payloads on board the 1,380 kg Chandrayaan-1 — five designed and developed in India, three from European Space Agency, one from Bulgaria and two from the United States.