Russia to Build India’s Lunar Lander/Rover; ISRO Aims for Mars, Sun

After the Moon, ISRO Aims for the Sun

Riding high on the success of Chandrayaan-I, ISRO plans to launch Chandrayaan-2 in 2012. Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The mission has been allocated a budget of $86.6 million (Rs 425 crore). Chandrayaan-2 will comprise a lander and a robotic rover, which will soft land on the moon. The robot will take samples from the lunar surface for analysis and will transmit the data back to the earth.  ISRO has already signed a pact with the Russian federal space agency (Roskosmos) for the mission. According to the pact, Roskosmos will be responsible for the Lander/Rover.

While Chandrayaan-1 is yet to unload many of its secrets, ISRO is aggressively pursuing its future projects such as the solar mission, Aditya, a satellite to study solar emissions. With the design in place, the mission will be launched in a couple of years. Aditya is reportedly the first space based solar mission planned to study corona, the sun’s outer layer. There are limitations to studying corona from the earth as it is visible only during solar eclipses. The earth’s atmosphere also scatters sunlight. This makes a space mission to study corona even more significant.

ISRO’s study on a Mars mission is also underway. The orbiter mission to Mars aims to study the Martian atmosphere, weather and solar wind-Mars interactions. According to ISRO, setting up a base in the moon could help future space explorations. A long trip to a celestial body such as the Mars could use the moon as an intermediate base. Mission to Mars is likely to could happen around 2019. Missions to other planets could well become a reality in the long term.

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