Bangalore: Indian Space Research Organisation's second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, scheduled for 2011-12, will be sending down a robotic 'lander,' now being developed by Russia. The second mission would be a two-week probe, unlike Chandrayaan-1, which will orbit the moon on a two-year mission, ISRO officials said.
Chandrayaan-1 will launch on its mission in April next year.
The robotic 'lander' would be sent on its way to the lunar surface by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2, according to Chandrayaan-1 project director, M. Annadurai, who spoke to the media.
One of the objectives of Chandrayaan-1's overall mission profile is to send down an 'impacter,' in an attempt to assess whether it strikes a pre-determined location. The 'impacter' is a less sophisticated version of a 'lander' and just crashes on the surface of a planet or a moon.
In Chandrayaan-2, the 'impacter' would be transformed into an equipment-bearing 'soft-lander' that will drill and conduct scientific studies over a 100km radius on the lunar surface, preferably close to one of the moon's poles.
According to Annadurai, there would be no need to collect and bring back samples from the lunar surface as "today's technology allows us to analyse the data collected by the robotic lander sitting right here in our offices."
The data would be received through an indigenously built 32-metre deep space network (DSN) antenna, which ISRO has installed at the hamlet of Byalalu, 32km from Bangalore.
Annadurai was speaking to the media on the occasion of the installation at the Byalalu station, of a second DSN antenna. The 18-metre German-built antenna will be capable of tracking probes or satellites up to 100,000km from the Earth. The indigenous 32-metre antenna has a greater reach and will be tracking the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which involves a distance of 400,000km.
In this regard, Annadurai mentioned that the indigenous antenna was ready for performance tests.
In future, ISRO plans to offer telemetry (automatic measurement and transmission of data from remote sources) and tracking services for foreign deep space probes, said SK Shivakumar, director of the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command network.
ISRO may make a start by offering the facilities of the Byalalu station to track NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's (Jaxa) on-mission deep space probes, Mars Express and Kaguya.
According to Shivakumar, the one-time investment of Rs100 crore for the DSN station and antenna, included in the Chandrayaan-1 project cost of Rs386 crore, would be useful even for future Indian missions into deep space.
He said images and data received from Chandrayaan-like missions would be stored at the Indian Space Science Data Centre, also to be housed at the Byalalu station.
While Chandrayaan-1, involves collaboration with the US, the European Space Agency and Japan, the second mission will be jointly conducted with Russia.