India is preparing to land a rover near the unexplored south pole.
India’s Space Research Organization plans to launch a spacecraft using home-grown technology on Monday.
The spacecraft is expected to moon land September 6 or 7.
“This is a few steps forward (from India’s previous moon mission) in terms of having a lander with more advanced payloads, and also having, having an orbiter with advanced payloads and then a lander which would soft land on the moon, plus a rover, which would move around and do detailed (inaudible) studies”, said space expert, Dr. N. Rathnasree.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission will analyze minerals, map the moon’s surface and search for water. Pallava Bagla, a science writer with the New Delhi Television Channel, sees this as a stepping stone in India’s robust space program.
“India is already a formidable force in space technology. Having end to end capabilities of making satellites, making rockets, launching them with a program for launching astronauts into space, coming up by 2022. Having visited Mars, having visited moon. And serving the 1.3 billion Indian population through space technology.’‘
This will be the first rover to look for water at the south pole.
“It (south pole of the moon) has those permanently shadowed crater locations wherein the possibility of substantial presence of water, as you know like, maybe water bearing minerals, perhaps sub-surface water ice, all of these – for which we have got various glimpses from the orbiter missions in the last few years. So, a little more detailed study of particularly those regions where these permanently shadowed regions are there. So, that is why one is going. Right now, these days, it has become the place to go”, Dr. N. Rathnasree said.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission is costing India some $141 million. With widespread poverty and one of the world’s highest child mortality rates, some have questioned the expense in a country of 1.3 billion people.
But India plans to send humans into space by 2022, thus becoming the only fourth nation to do so.