India to use Japan's landing tech in next moon mission

Last Updated 10 September 2019, 06:48 IST

When India will go for the moon next time, its lander will use a high-accuracy landing technology developed by Japan.

The “Vikram” may not have touched down on moon as planned, but the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to embark on another lunar mission within the next few years in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The India-Japan joint lunar mission will use the SLIM – “Smart Lander for Investigation of Moon” – technology, which the JAXA has developed for a high-accuracy landing.

“We are confident India will continue her contributions to lunar exploration, along which Japan proudly walks,” Kenji Hiramatsu, Japan's ambassador to India, said, lauding the ISRO and its scientists for the Chandrayaan-2. The JAXA and ISRO are planning a Japan-India joint lunar polar exploration, which will be launched in the early 2020s, he said.

The space agencies of India and Japan in November 2016 inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for lunar polar exploration. They followed it up by finalizing an implementation arrangement in December 2017. The two sides conducted the Joint Mission Definition Review in 2018 and are now set to start Joint System Requirements Review.

The SLIM, according to the JAXA, is the world's first such technology for precision landing on the moon. It will help the lander of the Japan-India moon mission to land exactly where its controllers in the earth will want it to touch down on the lunar surface, instead of requiring them to make it land where it is easy to land.

Japan is also likely to provide navigation guidance sensors and guidance algorithms to soft-land with an accuracy range of 100 meters, even in the shadowy lunar south pole area, according to a JAXA document.

The “Vikram” – the lander of the “Chandrayaan 2” of the ISRO – descended towards the moon as planned till the altitude of 2.1 kms from the lunar surface early on Saturday. It later lost contacts with the ground stations – presumably due to the impact of a hard-landing.

With the “Chandrayaan 2” orbiter still alive and revolving the moon as planned, the data it will collect and the pictures its cameras will capture and send to the ground stations are expected to help provide the high-accuracy image navigation to be used for application of the SLIM technology to ensure a precision touchdown for the ISRO-JAXA lander on the shadowy lunar region.

The JAXA is likely to bring in several advanced technologies to its joint lunar mission with the ISRO – the multilayer vacuum thermal insulation technology, thin-film solar cell technology, high energy density all-solid lithium-ion battery technology that can withstand ultra-low temperatures of Minus 40 degrees Celsius and fuel cell technology of over 500 Wh/kg.

(Published 10 September 2019, 03:26 IST)

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