from the "A-Grand-Day-Out" dept.
India plans to put another orbiter around the Moon and land a rover for just $93 million (including launch costs):
In a large shed near the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore, a six-wheeled rover rumbles over dark grey rubble in a landscape designed to mimic the Moon's rocky surface. This test and others scheduled for the next few weeks are crucial steps in India's quest to launch a second mission to the Moon next March.
The country's much anticipated Chandrayaan-2 comes almost a decade after India began its first journey to the Moon, in 2008. "It is logically an extension of the Chandrayaan-1 mission," says Mylswamy Annadurai, director of the project at ISRO. The spacecraft comprises an orbiter that will travel around the Moon, a lander that will touch down in a as-yet undecided location near the Moon's south pole and a rover.
India's maiden Moon trip was a significant achievement for its space programme, but ended prematurely when ISRO lost contact with the orbiter ten months into the planned two-year mission. However, an instrument on a probe that reached the Moon's surface did gather enough data for scientists to confirm the presence of traces of water.
[...] ISRO plans to execute its mission on shoestring budget of just 6.03 billion rupees (US$93 million), including the cost of the rocket and launch. Chandrayaan-2 will be carried into space on one of the agency's three-stage rockets, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II, taking off from a spaceport on the island of Sriharikota in the Bay of Bengal. "A nice part of the Indian space programme is that they manage to do things so cheaply," says ANU astrobiologist Charles Lineweaver. "If it succeeds, maybe everyone else will see that their mission didn't really need that extra bell or whistle."
The launch is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.
Previously: Moon Wetter Than Previously Thought
The inside of the moon is wetter than previously thought, research suggests, opening up fresh possibilities for manned missions to the lunar landscape.
While the moon was once thought to be bone-dry, in recent years water has been found trapped in lunar volcanic glasses – material formed from magma ejected from the moon's interior. But it has remained a topic of debate just how wet the lunar innards are, with some arguing that the water content of lunar samples may not be representative of the majority of the moon's mantle – the layer beneath the crust.
Now researchers say a new analysis of satellite data has unpicked the puzzle, revealing "hotspots" of trapped water right across the moon's surface in deposits from ancient eruptions. "The lunar mantle is wetter than our previous thoughts [suggested]," said Shuai Li, co-author of the study from Brown University.
Remote detection of widespread indigenous water in lunar pyroclastic deposits (DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2993) (DX) (supplemental)
Here we demonstrate that, for a number of lunar pyroclastic deposits, near-infrared reflectance spectra acquired by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument onboard the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter exhibit absorptions consistent with enhanced OH- and/or H2O-bearing materials. These enhancements suggest a widespread occurrence of water in pyroclastic materials sourced from the deep lunar interior, and thus an indigenous origin. Water abundances of up to 150 ppm are estimated for large pyroclastic deposits, with localized values of about 300 to 400 ppm at potential vent areas. Enhanced water content associated with lunar pyroclastic deposits and the large areal extent, widespread distribution and variable chemistry of these deposits on the lunar surface are consistent with significant water in the bulk lunar mantle. We therefore suggest that water-bearing volcanic glasses from Apollo landing sites are not anomalous, and volatile loss during pyroclastic eruptions may represent a significant pathway for the transport of water to the lunar surface.
India plans to visit the moon a third time and also return, with Japan for company this time.
Their lander and rover mission will bring samples back from moon, the chiefs of the two space agencies said on Friday.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have started to work out the contours of their joint trip — which will be the third for both countries.
They did not say when it would be sent. The plans are in the early stages: Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, A.S.Kiran Kumar, and JAXA president Naoki Okumura said the 'implementation arrangements' are likely be reached in a couple of months.
NASA (USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration) reports that India's Vikram Lander has been Found:
The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States). Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images. When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11. The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S, 22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).
The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2x2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.
See the NASA article for before/after pictures of the impact site.
NASA Lunar Probe Will Help Search for India's Lost Moon Lander
Time is Running Out for India to Establish Contact With its Lunar Lander
India Locates Lander Lost on Final Approach to Moon
Chandrayaan-2: India's Vikram Lander Presumed to Have Crashed
Chandrayaan-2 Updates: Lunar Orbit Insertion and Lunar Orbit Maneuver
Chandrayaan-2 Launch: How to Watch First Mission to the Moon's South Pole Mon 20190722 @ 0913 UTC
Scrubbed Chandrayaan 2 Mission to Moon's South Pole to Launch on Mon July 22 0913 UTC
India's Lunar Spacecraft Launches Sunday on First-Ever Mission to Moon's South Pole
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India's Chandrayaan-2 Moon Mission Planned for 2018