India sees big payoff in lunar mission

Soon after its lunar landing on September 7, Chandrayaan-2 will start to execute a series of tests which India believes will usher in a windfall of new scientific discoveries and trigger a “quantum leap” in technology. 

“The implications of the mission are huge. Not only will India benefit by the unearthing of new mineral deposits, but we will be recipient of new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs,” said Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research organisation (Isro).

The choice of landing in the south pole was deliberate, Sivan added, explaining that the south pole is believed to hold substantial concentrations of critically important minerals and metals such as aluminum, manganese and iron.

However, the south pole is a harsh place, replete with craters and subject to temperatures as low as -233 Degrees Celsius. Sunlight is limited here and long shadows which cling to the side of craters never appear to dissolve.

“We suspect that the south pole has large quantities of water which our lunar rover will test for,” Kailasavadivoo Sivan said, hinting that it was no coincidence that the south pole is also the location of choice for a proposed United States human colony.

While the lander and rover have an official lifespan over 14 earth days (which is also the length of a standard lunar day) as predicated by the mission’s solar technology, Kailasavadivoo Sivan expressed the hope that systems will reactive following the conclusion of lunar night cycle.

“Our systems are certificated to withstanding the punishing night temperatures of below -200 Degrees Centigrage. If our systems come back online during the resumption of the lunar day cycle, we will have to see what additional scientific tests can be continued,” he said.

As for the lunar orbit which has an official lifespan of one year, during which time it will be used to map the lunar surface, Kailasavadivoo Sivan clarified that increased efficiency may see the life of the orbiter extend to beyond a year, but would not clarify that the orbiter would last for two years as reported in some media.

The international community is also set to benefit from the mission, he added, in that all data will be shared with scientists from around the world.

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