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India loses Moon satellite links

Chandrayaan 1 (ISRO)
All contact with Chandrayaan-1 was lost early on Saturday

All communication links with the only Indian satellite orbiting the Moon have been lost, India's space agency says.

Radio contact with the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was lost abruptly early on Saturday, said India's Bangalore-based Space Research Organization (Isro).

The unmanned craft was launched last October in what was billed as a two-year mission of exploration.

The launch was regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.

Following its launch from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, it was hoped the robotic probe would orbit the Moon, compile a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and map the distribution of elements and minerals.

Useful mission?

Last month the satellite experienced a technical problem when a sensor malfunctioned.

CHANDRAYAAN 1
1 - Chandrayaan Energetic Neutral Analyzer (CENA)
2 - Moon Impact Probe (MIP)
3 - Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM)
4 - Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC)
5 - Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)
6 - Chandrayaan 1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS)
7 - Solar Panel

An Isro spokesman said at the time that useful information had already been gathered from pictures beamed to Earth from the probe, although the picture quality had been affected by the malfunction.

Powered by a single solar panel generating about 700 watts, the Isro probe carries five Indian-built instruments and six constructed in other countries, including the US, Britain and Germany.

The mission was expected to cost 3.8bn rupees (£45m; $78m), considerably less than Japanese and Chinese probes sent to the Moon last year.

But the Indian government's space efforts have not been welcomed by all.

Some critics regard the space programme as a waste of resources in a country where millions still lack basic services.



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