NEW DELHI :
Chandrayaan-2, which would take the Indian tricolour to the south pole or so-called “dark side of the Moon", would also carry as many as 13 payloads that would bring Indian scientists closer to tracing the origin and evolution of the Moon.
India’s second unmanned mission to the Moon, which comes 11 years after the first, Chandrayaan-1, would include a lunar orbiter, a lander, and a rover.
The experiments to be conducted as part of the mission would focus on the distribution of water on the lunar surface and below it, evidence of which was first provided by Chandrayaan-1 in 2008.
Discovery of water on the moon is crucial for future space explorations. A sample of primeval water could pave the way for major findings about the origin of water on the moon and on earth, according to scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). With wider exploration of the solar system in coming years, especially manned missions, the moon could form the base for fuel, oxygen and other critical raw materials.
“Globally, this is a pioneering mission for human habitation beyond earth. The large craters on the south pole, shaded from sunlight for millions of years, can host humanity’s first extra-terrestrial outposts," said Chaitanya Giri, fellow, Space and Ocean Studies Programme, Gateway House, a foreign policy think tank.
If successful, India will become only the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to carry out a soft landing on the moon. A similar attempt by Israel in April was unsuccessful.
Isro has selected its most powerful rocket, the three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-III), for the mission which is set for launch at 2.51 am on Monday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Five of the 13 payloads are from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria. Out of the 13 payloads, three would be loaded on the lander, two on the rover, and the remaining eight on the orbiter. These include X-ray monitors to help understand the moon’s mineral composition and seismic activities. The orbiter, which revolve around the moon for a year, carries a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar that can search for buried water at least a few metres below the lunar surface. The terrain mapping camera will help construct a digital 3-D model of the moon’s surface.