Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Russian lander on Chandrayaan 2

        With three years left for the launch of Chandrayaan-2--India's second unmanned scientific mission to the moon--details of this flight have started emerging.

       The most recent one is about the lander which is the sole Russian contribution to the Rs 425-crore Chandrayaan-2 mission. On September 14, 2010, Igor Mitrofanov, a landers mission scientist gave a presentation about the lander at the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) which was held in the US on September 14--almost a month ago.

        The original plan of the project envisaged Russia supplying both the lander as well as 50 kg rover. But in May 2010, it backed out of the rover deal mainly because of time constraints and also financial problems. Also according to Isro, Russia wanted to focus on the payloads which will be put on its lunar lander.

        In Russia, the Chandrayaan-2 has been designated as Luna-Recourse and the flight is slated for take off in 2013. Some of the highlights of the LEAG presentation are:

        * It will be a polar lander.which in several ways resembles the Luna-Glob lander. Luna-Glob is Russia's unmanned mission to the moon which will lift off in 2012.

        * Both have maniulators. But, the difference is that while the Luna Glob lander has a drilling system, the Chandrayaan-2 lander has a rover.

        According to his presentation, the main scientific tasks of the the landers are the investigation of the composition of the moon's subsurface and probing ot the interaction between cosmic plasma and surface and what are known as processes of exosphere at lunar poles.

        Some of the payloads on the lander include a radio beacon, tv for field of operations, an imaging spectrometer, an instrument for measuring the dust and another one for studying the seismic activity on the moon. The prototype of the radio beacon transmitter will be flown in the Phobos soil return mission in 2012. Phobos is one of the moon's of Mars.Similarly, another payload known as the gas analystic complex will also be tested on the Phobos-Soil-Return mission.

         The lunar infra red spectrometer will measure oxygen and hydrogen and water content in the polar region both on the surface as well as within a shallow sub surface. Lasma or the Laser Mass Analyser will evaluate soil samples which will also be tested on the Phobos mission. Likewise, adron which will study the composition of the subsurface regolith will also be tested on the Phobos flight as well as Nasa's Mars Science Laboratory to be launched next year.

         The radiometer-thermometer will measure the radiation from the sub surface. and the dust detector to be evaluated on the Phobos flight. will assess the impacts from dust grains. It will also detect micro meteorites. Lina, a detector of charge particles, and Aries, an energy mass spectrometer of ions,will examine the interaction of solar wind with the lunar surface at the poles. The prototype of this instrument will be flown on the Phobos mission.

          So far bulk of data about Chandrayaan-2 is coming from private sources. It is time Isro open a dedicated website about this mission.


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