CHENNAI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has confirmed that it will be flying 13 Indian payloads and one passive experiment from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) onboard Chandrayaan-2, which is slated for a July launch.
ISRO officials told Express that if everything goes according to plan,"The spacecraft will be up in the skies inching towards the landing site in Moon’s south pole around this time in July.”
Though the Indian national space agency was tight-lipped about NASA’s footprint in what was called “out-and-out” indigenous mission, it has revealed that a passive experiment from American space agency - Retroreflector - will take flight.
Retroreflector is essentially sophisticated laser mirrors, using which scientists on Earth can pinpoint precisely where the lander is and measure the moon’s distance from Earth. Still, ISRO officials call India’s second lunar mission ‘desi’.
Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, had hinted about NASA’s partnership with ISRO for Chandrayaan-2 mission during a town hall event held on March 18.
The spacecraft with a mass of 3.8 tonnes, has three modules - Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). All the modules are getting ready for the Chandrayaan-2 launch during the window of July 9 to July 16, 2019, with an expected Moon landing on September 6, the ISRO had said in a press statement earlier this month.
ISRO officials said the Orbiter and Lander modules will be interfaced mechanically and stacked together as an integrated module and accommodated inside the GSLV MK-III launch vehicle.
The Rover is housed inside the Lander. After launching into earthbound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module will reach Moon orbit using Orbiter propulsion module. Subsequently, Lander will separate from the Orbiter and soft land at the predetermined site close to lunar South Pole.
Further, the Rover will roll out for carrying out scientific experiments on the lunar surface. Instruments are also mounted on Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments.
Meanwhile, ISRO on Wednesday has released a poster detailing the benefits of Chandrayaan-2 mission. The agency said fully harnessing the moon was an integral part of the mission.
“Clues of some of the most fundamental questions about our Solar System, are hidden in the craters, hills and valleys of the Moon. Studying these will help us unravel the mysteries of our Universe,” ISRO said.
It also described Moon as having the perfect test-bed for proving technologies required for future space exploration, as well as in-situ resource utilisation and announced that India would be a key contributor in exploring and uncovering the secrets of the universe - an aspiration shared by the global community.