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Chandrayaan : (Lunar) Moon Mission or Lunatic Mission?

In India, ISRO, Space Exploration on October 22, 2008 at 12:26 am

India is at a moment away from joining the greatest nations of this world. The USA and USSR did this before i.e sending lunar missions to Moon. As an Indian and astronomy buff I savour the news with excitement but given what India is and what her problems are, it’s difficult to rejoice.   The USA and USSR sent missions to moon that mapped its surface and brought back moon samples. The USAor Russia  never sent missions after that which means that it’s not very promising for either colonisation or exploration.

Chandrayan I, ready for lift-off at Sriharokota

Chandrayaan I, ready for lift-off at Sriharokota


However India chosen to send Chandrayaan I only out of prestige and with a point to prove that India can send missions to moon. Simply put, India wants to reinvent the wheel (once done by the USA and USSR).

The Chandrayaan as per ISRO has these objectives in mind:  1. To Expand the nowledge of the Moon 2. To upgrade India’s technological capability 3. To provide challenging opportunities for planetary research to younger generation of Indian scientists. To be more precise: ‘Chandrayaan-1 aims to achieve these well defined objectives through high resolution remote sensing of the moon in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. With this, preparation of a 3-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface and chemical mapping of entire lunar surface is envisaged.’

There are 11 payloads. Five payloads of India, three from European Space Agency, one from Bulgaria and two from the United States. Well, we must guess that they paid for the payload even if they share data with us.

Moon Mission of ISRO, Chandrayan I

Moon Mission of ISRO, Chandrayan I



1. Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC)

2. Hyperspectral Imager (HySI) 

3. Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI) 

4. High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (HEX)

5. Moon Impact Probe (MIP) EUROPEAN SPACE


1. Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS)

2. Smart Near Infrared Spectrometer (SIR-2)

3. Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA)

4. Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM)

5. Mini Syntheic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) – USA

6. Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)

It appears from the payload and the objetives it’s clear that there’s duplication of research espcially in tha case of mapping the mineral composition of the moon.

Chandrayaan was announced during Pro.Kasturirangan’s chairmanship o ISRO. When he announced this abmitious it’s estimated to cost the taxpayer Rs 800 crores. Criticism about this very project was deflcted bt Prof Rangan that this Mission by saying that it would ‘electrify’ the nation.

Unfortunately we in India don’t have electricity connections to hundreds, if not thousands of villages. There’re lakhs of villages which don’t have safe drinking water, civic amenities, toilet facilities, housing & basic facilities like libraries. In effect India is in the notorious company of the likes of Ethiopia, Bangladesh and other poorest countries in the world when it comes to basic human necessities like hunger, shelter, education & healthcare. It’s true that none of these items are in the Union List whereby the Government of India assumes responsibility for all those subjects but it can’t just wish away these things.

Can they think of starting schools for these kids?

Can they think of starting schools for these kids?

It’s lack of sensitivity or ignorance of real issues in India. Rs.800 or even Rs.1000 crores would not be a big money for a country of India’s size. It’s also true of China and it didn’t shyaway from from spending big on some fancy trip to space by its taikonauts whose job was to wave the flag of communists.

Chinese didn’t conduct any experiments. It’s a trip to boost the totalitarian regime of Communist clique in Beijing. It’s nothing to claim except that flag job. That way Indian mission is purposeful as they have a lot of payload and experminets to conduct. Nevertheless it’s heartless to ignore the level of hunger in India and think about some inconsequential experiments that have no value for India.

The USA on the other hand is sending an innovative payload whereby it want to find water in moon’s polar region.

Moon's polar region where India is not interested to find water but US is.

Moon's polar reion where US wants to find water. India has no such interest, it seems (based on our payloads)


‘MiniSAR is mainly intended for the important task of detecting water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the Lunar poles up to a depth of a few meters. It can optimally distinguish water ice from the dry lunar surface.’ 

ISRO has the history of sending setellites to do remote sensing, weather forecasting & improving communication facilities. This mission is closer ot being an example of extravagance. If India can boast of launch technology then it could have tried Mars mission as the red planet is very promising with water & possible colonisation subsequent to terraforming. 


A typical moon crater (No different from earthern craters)

A typical moon crater (No different from earthern craters)



Moon craters formed when Moon was still a gelly of celestial material. This water drop explains how lunar craters formed.

Moon craters formed when Moon was still a gelly of celestial material. This water drop explains how lunar craters formed.



The latest Phoenix mission to Mars ny NASA has conclusively proved the presence of water though it’s visible to naked eye from other missions that’re surveying the red planet.

Indians had the opportunity of joining the US and sending payloads to Mars where terrafarming is a certain possibility.

Terraforming of Mars ie transforming Mars through human intervention

Terraforming of Mars ie transforming Mars through human intervention


As a stand alone organisation ISRO is far far behind the USA in the knowledge of Mars & its exploitation. ISRO can join hands with NASA and/or send payloads through US missions. NASA as we are all aware has many satellites that’re working on Mars methodically. 

Though cold war fuelled space exploration, it helped mankind enormously. There’re no cold war now but the space exploration has given us many spin offs like communications, espionage, metereology and geological studies.

Mars surface photos (of permafrost)

Mars surface photos (of permafrost)

India has started modeslty in space programme with exclusive agenda to work for the benefit the people of India. Chandrayan would not benefit the people of India except a few proud souls whose India is limited to the hollowed precincts of academia or research orhganiations who are fond of reinventing wheel.

It’s a proud moment but not a well deserving one.