With Chandrayaan-1 well on its way to moon without any glitch, Indian Space Research Organisation has now initiated a dialogue with its Russian counterpart of worksharing of Chandrayaan-2 which features a lander and a rover.
“Conceptual studies are in place. Overall configuration is finalised but the scientific experiments are yet to be finalised. It may take six months (for finalisation)”, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said in Bangalore.
“The lander will be from Russia. The Russian space agency is cooperating with us. The rover will be a joint development between Russia and India. Many of the scientific instruments (payloads on board Chandrayaan-2) will be from India”, Nair, also Secretary in the Department of Space, said.
Unlike the Chandrayaan-1 which will orbit the moon at an altitude of 100 km mapping topography and the mineralogical content of the lunar soil, the Chandrayaan-2 mission involves a lunar orbiting spacecraft and a lander and a rover on the moon’s surface.
Project Director of Chandrayaan-1 Mayilsami Annadurai said the Government has approved a Rs 425 crore budget for the Chandrayaan-2 venture, with seed money of Rs 50 crore already in place.
Even for building the lander, India can contribute its expertise, Annadurai said, adding, work-sharing discussions on the mission (who will do what) are in progress with the Russian space agency.
“After the lander lands gently on the Moon’s surface, rover will come out and it can move around. It will pick up soil or sand. We will have some instruments that will enable the rover to do in situation (chemical and mineralogical) analysis there (to probe on the presence water vapour and Helium-3 and things of that nature)”, Annadurai said.
Instead of bringing the samples back to earth, ISRO scientists said the rover would be able to do analysis there and send data to the orbiting satellite which then in turn will transmit to the earth with the Indian Deep Space Network performing the task of receiving the radio signals.
Annadurai said Chandrayaan-2 is targeted to be launched four years from the launch of Chandrayaan-1 -October 2012.
Chandrayaan-2 will be a three-tonne class satellite, he said.
Officials of the Bangalore-headquartered ISRO said there might be a provision to accommodate payloads from other space agencies on board Chandrayaan-2 as happened in Chandrayaan-1.
But Nair said: “We have not made an assessment of the payloads which are going on board (Chandrayaan-2). So, that will happen in the next six months. Then we will decide. If there is extra capacity, we will use that (give it to other space agencies)”.