The Chandrayaan-II moon mission, which will help in analysis of mineral composition and undertake terrain mapping of the moon, will be completed by 2012-13, Project Director of Chandrayaan Dr M Annadurai said. The mission is expected to have an operational life of about 2 years.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) have signed an Agreement on joint lunar research and exploration. This cooperation envisages Chandrayaan-2, a joint lunar mission involving a lunar orbiting spacecraft and two Landers/Rovers on the Moon’s surface. ISRO will have the prime responsibility for the Orbiter and Roskosmos will be responsible for its Lander/Rover. A few scientific instruments from other space agencies may also be accommodated on these systems.Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) around 2013 time frame. This agreement is a major milestone in the long-standing cooperation between India and Russia in the area of outer space.

Chandrayaan-2 will consist of the spacecraft and a landing platform with the moon rovers. The platform with the rovers will detach after the spacecraft reaches its orbit above the moon and land on the lunar surface.

Two motorized rovers will be released on the moon’s surface from the lander. The location for the landers will be identified using data from the Chandrayaan-1 payload MIP.

In Chandrayaan-1, MIP detached itself from the spacecraft and impacted the moon’s surface. The MIP had three instruments. Annadurai, its mass spectrometer, sensed the moon’s atmospheric constituents as it fell for 18 minutes and crashed on the moon. Its altimeter measured the instantaneous altitude during its descent. Its video-imaging system looked at the moon from close proximity.

The rovers will weigh between 30 kg and 100 kg, depending on whether they are to do a semi-hard landing or soft landing. The rovers will have an operating life-span of a month, and will run predominantly on solar power.

If ISRO wants to operate the rovers for two or three months, its engineers will configure the vehicles and instruments including a battery back-up to go into a low-power mode, with the rovers waking up when sunlight streams through. When the sunlight comes, the solar-powered battery cells will be re-charged and the equipment will be switched on one by one for the rovers to function for another two weeks. The batteries will be re-charged every two weeks.

“The Rs 425 crore project will be completed by 2012-13. As opposed to Chandrayaan-1 which was a moon orbiter, in Chandrayaan-2, the two moon rovers will actually land on the moon surface,” he said inaugurating the sixth National Student Conference at University Visveswaraya College of Engineering.

“Chadrayaan-II will consist of the spacecraft and a landing platform with two moon rovers, one from India and one from Russia, which will land on the moon and move on wheels on the lunar surface, pick up samples of soil or rocks, do a chemical analysis and send the data to the spacecraft orbiting above,” Annadurai said.

The ‘SmartNav’ robot being developed for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will help space scientists to navigate moon’s surface during the manned moon mission and provide real-time data and pictures of the surface there. The two-legged robot, fitted with sophisticated sensors and high-resolution cameras, is capable of recording information and images using laser beams.

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff

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