Bangalore (PTI): The Indian flag is all set to mark its presence on the lunar surface for the first time on Friday as a moon probe with the tri-colour painted on it will detach from Chandrayaan-1 and descend onto the earth's natural satellite.
"The Moon Impact Probe is expected to be detached (from Chandrayaan-1) at around 10 PM tomorrow," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesperson S Satish told PTI.
Miniature Indian flags are painted on four sides of MIP. "It will signify the entry of India on Moon," Satish said.
"During its 20-minute descend to the moon's surface, MIP will take pictures and transmit these back to the ground," he said.
MIP is one of the 11 scientific instruments (payloads) onboard Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned spacecraft mission to Moon launched on October 22.
The spacecraft on Wednesday reached its final orbital home, about 100 kms over the moon surface after ISRO scientists successfully carried out the last critical orbit lowering operation. Developed by ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of Thiruvananthapuram, the primary objective of MIP is to demonstrate the technologies required for landing a probe at the desired location on the moon.
The probe will help qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions. This apart, scientific exploration of the moon at close distance is also intended using MIP.
The 29-kg MIP consists of a C-band Radar Altimeter for continuous measurement of altitude of the probe, a video imaging system for acquiring images of the surface of moon from the descending probe and a mass spectrometer for measuring the constituents of extremely thin lunar atmosphere during its 20-minute descent to the lunar surface.
ISRO officials are confident that the MIP would withstand the impact once it hits the lunar surface. "Most probably it will not disintegrate," an ISRO official said.
From the operational circular orbit of about 100 km height passing over the polar regions of the moon, it is intended to conduct chemical, mineralogical and photo geological mapping of the moon with Chandrayaan-1's 11 scientific instruments (payloads).
Two of those 11 payloads - Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) - have already been successfully switched on. TMC has successfully taken the pictures of Earth and the Moon.
After the release of MIP on Friday, the other scientific instruments would be turned on sequentially leading to the normal phase of the two-year mission
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