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India’s Chandrayan-2 Lunar Orbiter-Lander-Rover Mission

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India has planned to send a second lunar mission named Chandrayan-2 in 2019. It would be a follow-up mission to Chandrayan-1 launched in 2009. If the first mission had confirmed the presence of water or hydroxyl on the lunar landscape, the second one will take it several notches higher. As confirmed by the Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO, Chandrayan-2 would comprise an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. To be launched aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV,) the role of the mission is well delineated. While the orbiter will stay at an altitude of 100 kilometers from the surface of the moon and carry out mapping, the lander will touch down on the surface softly and release the rover.

Earlier, India had signed an agreement in 2007 with Russia to jointly carry out the orbiter-lander-rover mission in 2013. However, the Russians developed cold feet after the failure of the Phobos-Grunt mission to Phobos, the Martian moon. Even though reports suggested that the European Space Agency and NASA had evinced interest in the mission, ISRO decided to go ahead solo.

The payloads of Chandrayan-2 are expected to conduct scientific studies on the topography of the moon and other areas like lunar exosphere, mineralogy, elemental abundance, and signatures of water-ice and hydroxyl. The six-wheeled 20-kilogram rover will tread the lunar surface to examine the composition of its regolith.

Even though NASA is not a participant, the findings of Chandrayan-2 could help it in gaining crucial information, which might be of help in sending manned missions.

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