Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, finally, there is some good news. The space agencies of India (ISRO) and Japan (JAXA) will launch a joint lunar mission. The mission is named Lunar Polar Exploration. Here is everything you need to know.
How Did It Start?
The idea of the collaboration pitched in during the multi-space agencies meeting at Bengaluru, India, in 2017. In 2018, after PM Modi’s visit to Japan, the idea was discussed internally between the governments of the two nations.
Lunar Mission Details
The mission will be a collaboration between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The two will attempt to put a lander and a rover on the Moon for the first time. The landing module and the rover will be built by Japan while India will build the lander system. ISRO’s budget for the mission is 1.8 billion. The joint mission will be launched after the year 2023, on JAXA’s H3 rocket, manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The H3 rocket is not yet tested and will be launched in 2020.
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The launch mass will be more than 6 tonnes while the payload will have a mass of more than 350 Kg. The rover will land on the south pole of the Moon. The operational period, according to JAXA, will be 3 months. The major mission types of equipment will be the Water Detector, Science Instrument, and the Environment Measuring Instrument.
In 2019, India’s Chandrayaan 2 failed to make a soft landing on the South Pole of the Moon. The mission was a partial success and the orbiter continues to study the lunar surface. Prior to this, the Chandrayaan 1 mission discovered water on Moon.
The collaborative mission aims at obtaining the actual data related to the quantity and forms of water present on the surface of the Moon to determine the feasibility of utilizing such resources for sustainable space exploration activities in the future. The lander will land near the investigation area witnessing long sunlit hours and will deploy the rover.
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There are number of space missions on which ISRO is currently working on. They include Chandrayaan 3, Gaganyaan, and the Aditya L1 mission. The Chandrayaan 3 mission will attempt to soft land on the lunar surface. Since the orbiter of Chandrayaan 2 is in good health, Chandrayaan 3 will not include an orbiter.
India on completing 75 years of Independence in 2022, will be launching a solo human spaceflight program ‘Gaganyaan’. The spacecraft is designated to carry three people and HAL will manufacture the crew module.
The Aditya L-1 mission will study the Sun. Built by ISRO and other Indian research institutes, Aditya L-1 is expected to launch at the end of 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the schedule of future missions has been disrupted. Read this article on ‘COVID-19 and Space Agencies’ for more information.