BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), on Thursday held a virtual meeting to review projects the two are collaborating on, in particular the Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission that is likely to be launched some time in 2024. It involves sending a lander and rover on the Moon’s south pole region, much like Chandrayaan-2 attempted.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan interacted with the Japanese delegation, led by JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa, wherein they reviewed their ongoing cooperation in Earth observation, lunar exploration and satellite navigation. The Lupex mission is being planned to demonstrate new surface exploration technologies related to vehicular transport and lunar night survival for sustainable lunar exploration in the polar regions — the south pole of the Moon in this case. The mission will use a lunar features-matching algorithm along with a navigational equipment from JAXA’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon mission, and the rover will carry instruments from both the space agencies.
The lander’s payload capacity will be a minimum 350 kg, while the rover will carry multiple instruments, which include a drill to collect sub-surface samples from 1.5 mt depth. Besides this, water prospecting and analysis are also likely to be the mission’s objectives.
The mission aims at an in-situ observation of areas where water is believed to exist, and obtain ground data on the quantity of water, besides understanding the distribution, conditions, form and other parameters of lunar water resources in the polar region. The mission is also meant to obtain data on the quantity and forms of the water resources present on the Moon.
“Through this mission, we also seek to improve the technology needed to explore the surface of low-gravity celestial bodies in order to support future lunar activities. These advancements include technology for mobility, lunar night survival and mining excavation,” JAXA had earlier announced. The launcher and rover are to be developed by Japan and the lander system will be developed by India.
The two sides agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in space situational awareness and professional exchange programme, according to an official announcement by ISRO. The two space agencies also signed an ‘Implementing Arrangement’ for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data, the release added.