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Emily LakdawallaNovember 19, 2008

A correction on the number of Chandrayaan-1 probe pictures

When the Chandrayaan-1 Moon Impact Probe descended to its crash on the Moon on November 14, it took many pictures on the way down. I repeated earlier a report issued by The Hindu that the probe captured 15,000 images, but I've now been told that that number is not correct. I received an email yesterday from Paul Spudis, a lunar scientist who is the principal investigator on the mini-SAR radar mapper on the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter. Spudis wrote that he was in mission control during the descent (he blogged the event for Air & Space magazine), and that the Moon Impact Probe returned approximately 3,100 images, or slightly more than two per second (assuming the capture rate was constant). He said "I've looked through most of them, trying to identify specific features. I did not succeed before I had to leave for home." He's an expert on the lunar south pole, so that in itself is interesting. I'll bet if the images were posted on the Web that sooner or later some armchair planetary scientist would figure out where they belonged!

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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