India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, which will be launched in April, is all set to carry laser instruments, which are owned by NASA. The scientists will seek help from laser retroreflector arrays, to take precise measurements of the distance to the moon.
Besides Chandrayaan 2, the laser instruments will also be flying to the Moon aboard the Israeli lander Beresheet, which is due to touch down April 11.
Retroreflectors are essentially sophisticated mirrors. Scientists on Earth can shoot them with lasers and study the light that is reflected back. That signal can help pinpoint precisely where the lander is, which scientists can use to calculate its, and the Moon’s, distance from Earth.
The Chandrayaan 2 Mission:
The moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago. The mission’s aim will be to conduct experiments on the moon and relay crucial information back to earth by placing a rover on the south pole of the moon.
A 3,890 kg Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft will orbit around the moon to study its conditions and collect data of its topography, mineralogy and exosphere, in the Chandrayaan 2 mission. It will be launched onboard its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send the astronauts into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh.
When Chandrayaan-2’s rover lands on the Moon, India will become the fifth country in the world to achieve the feat after Soviet Union in 1959, the US in 1969, China in December 2013, and Israel in 2019.
The lander has been named “Vikram” as a tribute to the pioneer of India’s space programme and former ISRO chairman (1963-71) Vikram Sarabhai.
The maiden mission Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.