ISRO to rethink mission aims for Chandrayaan-2

Space agency to adhere to 2013 deadline


Two payloads, Moon Mineralogy Mapper(M3) and Moon Impact Probe (MIP) presented data supporting the presence of water molecules on the lunar surface.

Addressing the media on Friday, ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair said they would need to revisit Chandrayaan-2’s objectives in face of the new discovery.

“Mini-SAR (Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar) will go only a few centimetres below the surface. Now we are thinking whether it is possible to drill down deeper to collect samples,” he said, referring to the NASA payload aboard Chandrayaan-1, which also collected data supporting the presence of water molecules on the moon’s surface.

The ISRO officials stated that unless deep soil samples proved the presence of water underneath the surface as well, they could not indicate the complete usefulness of its discovery. “There will be mid-course correction as per scientific objectives are concerned. Our nearest object is moon. We can convert it into a base for other planetary observations using  manned or unmanned observatories  soon.

“We can use the sunlight and water to live or use the hydrogen to fuel the rockets and launch them to other planets. There are a wide variety of applications, but abundant quantity of water is needed. Polar regions have more quantity which has to confirmed,” Nair described.

 Chandrayaan-2 will have a Russian lander and two rovers, one Indian and the other Russian. It is likely that after the present discovery, an attempt will be made to identify a landing site closer to the polar region, to enable the rovers to collect deep soil samples.
However, Nair maintained that none of the payloads, either orbital or on the rovers, had been finalised. Admitting that he was under tremendous pressure to accommodate more payloads, he said that if he accepted all the proposals that came, then they would require three launches! Despite the change in mission objectives, ISRO believes that it can still adhere to the 2013 deadline.

Nair also disclosed that ISRO would be submitting a joint paper with the Swedes about the findings of SARA (Sub Kiloelectronvolt Atom Reflecting Analyser). This payload was developed by Space Physics Laboratory of Sweden and studied neutral atoms, which escape from the surface of the moon and is present in space.

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