Bangalore: India’s second rocket to the moon, scheduled for 2013, will land two remote-controlled vehicles to collect soil to test for further evidence of water and elements such as helium-3, a clean nuclear fuel.
“We are making a mid-course correction for Chandrayaan-2,” G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), said on Friday. “We will mine the moon’s surface much deeper to find more water.”
Upbeat mood: Isro chairman G. Madhavan Nair (centre) with directors J.M. Goswami (right) and T.K. Alex at a press conference on Chandrayaan-1 discovery at Antariksh Bhavan in Bangalore on Friday. Shailendra Bhojak / PTI.
India’s first lunar mission, Chadrayaan-1, found the strongest evidence yet that there might be water on the moon.
The instruments on the rovers from Chandrayaan-2 will mine the soil, analyse them and send data back to earth.
Isro will spend Rs425 crore on the second mission that will be launched by its geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle.
Of the two rovers planned, the larger one will be supplied by Russia’s federal space agency. Isro would develop the smaller rover estimated to weigh 15kg. It will also create a lab in Bangalore that would simulate the moon’s terrain to test the vehicle.
“The thinking is to have more instruments on the rovers because of the water finding. The orbiter can be smaller,” said M. Annadurai, director of the Chandrayaan programme at Isro. Around 20 teams from India have submitted proposals for the second lunar mission, he said.
“For the first time in the history of space research, water is confirmed on the moon. It is acknowledged the world over that this is a real discovery and a path-breaking event for the Indian space agency,” Nair told reporters.
In one of the three papers published in the latest edition of the journal Science on Thursday, researchers said they analysed light waves detected by instruments made by National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US on board the Indian satellite and two other US probes that suggest the existence of water on the moon’s surface.
While India’s public funded agency plans to land two vehicles on the moon, there is global competition to kindle private interest in moon exploration.
Twenty privately funded teams are pitted against each other to bag the Google Lunar X prize competition, which entails them to safely land a robot on the surface of the moon, travel 500m over the surface and send images and data back to the earth. The winner of the contest to be completed by 2012 will get $20 million in cash.
AFP contributed to this story.