Russia will develop a lander that will ferry a rover to explore the moon's surface as part of the Chandrayaan-II mission, slated for launch in 2013, project director of Chandrayaan-I and II M. Annadurai said on Sunday.

“The GSLV will be the launch vehicle for Chandrayaan-II and the prime responsibility of realising the lander is Russia's. The rover, to be realised by us [Indian Space Research Organisation], will carry out in situ probe on the moon's surface. We will also develop the scientific instruments to go around with it,” Mr. Annadurai told The Hindu after delivering the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of B. Tech and MBA students, organised by the Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology (TIST), Arakkunnam, near here.

“Unlike Chandrayaan-I, whose moon-impact probe did a hard-landing on the moon, the lander ferried by the Chandrayaan-II orbiter to soft-land on the moon's surface would be about 1,200 kg. While the rover interface would be done by us, the lander interface with the rover would be developed by Russia,” he said.

Payload

Asked if the ISRO had finalised the payload proposals from countries for Chandrayaan-II, he said the Science Advisory Board was looking at the overall aspects, including reusability, and would soon come out with a decision. The payloads carried by Chandrayaan-II would not be as many as Chandrayaan-I.

“The purpose of Chandrayaan-I was to understand what the entire moon contained. But now, the effort would be to understand it in situ. Originally, we wanted to have chemical-mineral analysis, but now that Chandrayaan-I has shown us traces of water on the moon's surface, the emphasis could also be on confirming the finding,” he said.

The data pertaining to Chandrayaan-I was still under analysis. “Overall, each of Chandrayaan-I's instruments has given enough data, meeting the overall science goals of the mission. The daytime mapping camera, laser ranging instrument, or even foreign instruments like the moon image mapper or the mini-SAR [Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar] have all given us ample data. For instance, regarding mini-SAR, we have completed study of data pertaining to the North Pole of the moon. Analysis of data concerning the South Pole is still going on,” said Mr. Annadurai.

Rover's life

The rover's life would be about a few weeks. Prior to the launch, the ISRO would study its movement on a simulated terrain of the moon.

“It has to operate at one-sixth of the earth's gravity. Although we will not be able to simulate the atmospheric conditions, we very much want to see how the rover moves on a surface with very less friction,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Annadurai gave away certificates to B.Tech and MBA graduates at TIST. R.M. Vasagam, Pro-Chancellor of Dr. MGR Deemed University, Chennai, delivered a special address. TIST president P.J. Joseph presided over the function. TIST Principal V. Job Kuruvila welcomed the gathering.

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