BANGALORE, India India's first lunar mission was called off over the weekend after communications were lost with the Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft headed to the moon. A probe by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which said 95 percent of mission goals were achieved, will seek to determine what caused the communications failure.
The setback is not expected to affect the flight of Chandrayaan 2, the next unmanned lunar mission scheduled by India for 2012 or 2013. Lessons learned from the first mission will be incorporated into Chandrayaan 2, the ISRO said.
Radio contact with the spacecraft was abruptly lost early Saturday (Aug. 29), and ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair said during a briefing that unexpectedly high levels of radiation caused an onboard computer to crash, severing communications.
ISRO said a detailed review of telemetry received from the spacecraft has begun along with an assessment of the health of spacecraft subsystems.
Chandrayaan 1 was launched on Oct. 22, 2008, at a cost of $100 million. Prior to the failure, it completed 312 days in lunar orbit. It relayed about 70,000 pictures of the lunar surface along with other data, meeting most of the mission's scientific objectives.
The mission also catapulted India into an exclusive group of nations that have launched lunar missions, including the U.S. and Russia.
K.C. Krishnadas is site editor of TechOnline India