ISRO plans to land a rover on lunar south pole: Sivan

‘A place where nobody has gone’

Published - May 03, 2019 12:17 am IST - Chennai

NEW DELHI, 18/01/2019: ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Sivan in New Delhi on  January 18, 2019.  
Photo by R V Moorthy / The Hindu

NEW DELHI, 18/01/2019: ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Sivan in New Delhi on January 18, 2019. Photo by R V Moorthy / The Hindu

India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, will be historic for the scientific community as the country’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), attempts to land a rover on the lunar South Pole, a region on the moon to which no one has gone till now, ISRO Chairman K.Sivan said.

On Wednesday, ISRO said it had fixed a launch window between July 5 and July 16 to launch the moon mission on board a GSLV-MkIII, with an aim to land on the moon around September 6. If ISRO manages to successfully execute this, India will be the first country to land a rover on the moon’s South Pole.

Deadlines missed

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan, in a short interview to The Hindu , said this was a region where nobody had gone before. “All the [ISRO] missions, whatever we have had till now [to the moon], have all landed near the moon’s equator. This is a place where nobody has gone,” he said.

After missing multiple launch deadlines, Mr. Sivan said the new launch window was almost final and that ISRO would launch the mission in July.

“When nobody has gone near that area, some new science might be there. Some new information, new science, we may get access to,” he said. ISRO will reveal further details of its plans and goals for the Chandrayaan-2 mission in June, he said.

The South Pole of the moon has generated a lot of interest in the recent past, with countries aiming to reach the region in what could spark another race to the moon.

China is reportedly aiming to construct a moon research station on the lunar south pole, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working to send astronauts there by 2024.

Asked about China’s reported proposal to build a research station there, he said, “What they [China] are going to do, we don’t know. The main reason [why India is going there] is nobody has gone [to] that side till now.”

According to NASA, some regions of the lunar South Pole have permanently shadowed craters with some of the lowest temperatures in the Solar System, where water ice is stable. These craters are believed to have significant ice deposits, “untainted by the Sun’s radiation or geological processes.”

Mr. Sivan said one of the goals of the Chandrayaan-2 mission would also be to find water on the moon.

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