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India's Chandrayaan-2 mission to land lunar rover near moon's south pole

07 February 2018

India recently announced that its newest space mission, Chandrayaan-2, will launch a lunar orbiter and rover that will land near the moon's south pole, a feat not achieved before.

"It will do several experiments and on-site chemical analysis of the surface", ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan told TheTimes of India. Following the initial 14-day mission, the rover would power down and wait as the sun recharges its batteries when the light returns to that part of the Moon after which, it will resume its mission, noted Sivan.''

Chandrayaan-1 was launched in 2008 from Sriharikota on India's east coast at an evaluated cost of $83 million.

The rover will then send back images of the lunar surface through the orbiter within 15 minutes. The spacecraft will first be placed in a large elliptical orbit around the moon (170 kilometers by 20,000 kilometers), and it will be manoeuvred into its final orbit using thrusters. Sivan said that the lunar mission will be launched around April, but the exact launch date "will depend on various factors like the moon's relative position with respect to the Earth".

If everything goes according to plan, Chandrayaan -2 will become the first lunar probe to land in the region of the moon's South Pole while all others have landed near the equator.

The ambitious project comes after the first unsuccessful Chandrayaan -1, which was launched in 2008, and terminated after scientists lost contact with the spacecraft.

According to commentators, it would be a scientific milestone and a breakthrough of sorts in lunar exploration as the area targeted for landing has rocks said to be 4 billion years old.

They say, one can therefore imagine the sheer magnitude of the data and research the project would yield. It may become a goldmine of information to which scientists have not yet been privy to as no craft has attempted such a challenge till date.

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