En Route to the Moon’s South Pole

The Indian GSLV MkIII-M1 rocket successfully delivers the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft for its journey to the Moon. Left inset: the Neptune IR detector, right inset: the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter before being mated with the lander. (Sources: ISRO / Lynred / photonicsviews.com)

Lynred, a global leader in designing and manufacturing high quality infrared technologies for aerospace, defense and commercial markets, celebrated yesterday’s successful launch of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter that includes its Neptune infrared detector. This is the second time that the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO has deployed a Lynred IR detector in a space mission. The first was the hyperspectral imaging satellite HYSIS, launched in November last year.

Chandrayaan-2 is viewed as the ISRO’s most complex mission to date, as it will be the first to explore the Moon’s south polar region, the territory farthest from the Moon’s equator. “Lynred is proud to be part of the mission through our Neptune IR detector; it is wonderful to participate in exploring new territory on the Moon,” said Philippe Chorier, head of business development for space activity at Lynred. “This is the second time that ISRO has selected a Lynred IR detector for a space launch, which further strengthens our more than ten-year partnership. We look forward to designing other IR products for future ISRO instruments.”

The Chandrayaan-2 weighs 3,877 kg. The payload includes eleven instruments, one of which is an imaging IR spectrometer IIRS, designed with Lynred’s Neptune IR detector. It will conduct a more in-depth onsite chemical analysis of the Moon and detection of minerals, water molecules and hydroxyl. Since water is essential for life to function on Earth, the composition of the water-ice on the surface and subsurface and its origin are important objects of study for future space exploration and travel.

The orbiter is expected to scrutinize the Moon for one year. Of the eleven instruments, five are on the orbiter: An X-ray spectrometer to map the main features of the moon’s surface, a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) operating in the L and S bands to analyze the top layers of the moon’s surface to a thickness in the tens of meters, to confirm the presence of water in areas that are always in shadowed regions. The IIRS imaging IR spectrometer built on Lynred’s IR detects and maps the moon, a mass spectrometer performs a detailed study of the moon’s exosphere, and the Terrain Mapping Camera 2, TMC2, to generate three-dimensional maps for the study of the moon’s mineralogy and geology. The other instruments are placed on the lander and its rover.

The presence of water on the Moon was confirmed during the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which did not include a Lynred IR detector. For Chandrayaan-2, Neptune was chosen for its capacity to increase the upper spectral limit to 5.3 μm, up from 3 μm on Chandrayaan-1, in order to improve observation capabilities. Lynred developed the IR detector for the IR imaging spectrometer, a 500 × 256 pixel SWIR-MWIR detector with a pitch of 30 μm and a spectral range of 0.9 μm to 5.3 μm. It operates at ninety Kelvin and is equipped with a special cold filter with four bands. Based on the well-established and space-proven Neptune / Saturn IR space detectors, it is designed for hyperspectral applications in which the image of the ground is distributed spectrally on the detector. The device was delivered to ISRO in November 2017. (Sources: Lynred / ISRO)

Links: GSLV-Mk III – M1 / Chandrayaan-2 Mission, Indian Space Research Organisation, Bengaluru, IndiaLynred by Sofradir & ULIS, Veurey-Voroize, France

Further reading: India to Enter Domain of Hyperspectral Imaging from Orbit, photonicsviews.com, 15th August 2017

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