India's heavy rocket 'Bahubali' gearing up for Moon

12 Juillet, 2019, 08:08 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • India's heavy rocket 'Bahubali' gearing up for Moon

ISRO is looking to create history with the Chandrayaan-2 mission as it is the first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon's south polar region.

This will be the first rover to look for water at the south pole. This includes a terrain mapping camera to map the lunar surface and collect data on the moon's evolution.

The planned landing site for Chandryaan 2 is just 220 miles (350 kilometres) from the rim of the South-Pole Aitken basin - the same massive crater on the far side of the Moon under which scientists recently discovered evidence of a "large excess of mass".

India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle - Mark III (GSLV Mk III), nicknamed as "Bahubali", and its passenger Chandrayaan-2 were being readied up for their historic flight to the Moon on July 15, said space agency officials.

If all goes as planned, the lander and orbiter are expected to go into an initial elliptical lunar orbit on either August 5 or 6, before the pair separate.

The Pragyan rover, powered by the sun and AI, will cross the lunar surface at the blistering pace of 1 centimeter per second carrying instruments that can assess the molecules present on the moon.

These areas have stayed extremely cold for huge amounts of time and scientists believe it is likely they contain a fossil record of the early solar system.

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Despite the relatively small budget, the mission does raise questions about how funds are allocated when the country is still battling hunger and poverty.

Chandrayaan, which means "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, exemplifies the resurgence of global interest in space. Women employees account for almost 30% of India's space agency's total workforce.

After Chandrayaan I mission, we are now entering into Chandrayaan II mission.

Chandrayaan-2: Could Helium-3 exploration be one of the objectives?

However, some experts say anyone looking for a cheap ticket to space should think of the comfort on low-priced plane rides closer to Earth. A craft called Mangalyaan orbited Mars after its 2013 launch, scouring the atmosphere for methane and carbon dioxide to help determine whether life ever existed there. India also plans to send humans into space by 2022, becoming only the fourth nation to do so.

And heading this exercise are two women - mission director Ritu Karidhal and the project director Muthayya Vanitha, Sivan said. "That's a big difference in cost", said Hubbard. It will carry three payloads: a diagnostic tool to understand the lunar ionosphere; an instrument to measure the vertical temperature gradient and thermal conductivity on the lunar surface; and a seismometer to detect minute "ground displacement, velocity and acceleration caused by lunar quakes".

"So you get what you pay for", concluded Hubbard.

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