With 8 pay­loads, or­biter to look for wa­ter, min­er­als

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Suren­dra.Singh @times­group.com

Ben­galuru: All is not lost with Vikram and Pragyan los­ing con­tact with In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Isro) mo­ments be­fore their sched­uled land­ing. Their sep­a­rated brother, the lunar or­biter, is go­ing around the Moon, col­lect­ing valu­able in­for­ma­tion on pos­si­bil­ity of find­ing wa­ter and min­er­als.

Equipped with eight pay­loads, the or­biter, that has been in place since Septem­ber 1, has a life span of more than seven years.

Nasa vet­eran Jerry Li­nenger, who had flown on space shut­tles and spent five months on Rus­sian space sta­tion Mir in 1997, said, “With Chan­drayaan-2’s or­biter do­ing three-di­men­sional map­ping of the Moon and look­ing be­neath the lunar surface, we are ex­pect­ing a lot of in­for­ma­tion. Any­one look­ing to set up a base on Moon will be ben­e­fited by such in­for­ma­tion.”

Re­tired Isro sci­en­tist M An­nadu­rai, who was the project di­rec­tor of the 2008 Chan­drayaan-1 mis­sion, told TOI that the or­biter does many things that the lan­der and the rover couldn’t have. “While the rover’s re­search area would have been 500 me­tres, the or­biter will map the en­tire Moon from an alti­tude of about 100km. On­board equip­ment such as IR spec­trom­e­ter, two cam­eras and dual-band syn­thetic aper­ture radar can do a lot,” An­nadu­rai said.

“The IR spec­trom­e­ter cov­ers the en­tire Moon to study what three pay­loads of Chan­drayaan-1 — In­dia’s hy­per­spec­tral im­ager, Ger­many’s near in­frared spec­trom­e­ter and Nasa’s moon min­er­al­ogy map­per — have done,” he added.

The Chan­drayaan-2 or­biter’s ter­rain map­ping cam­era has a spa­tial res­o­lu­tion of 5m and a swath of 20km, which will help Isro pre­pare 3D maps of the lunar surface. The high-res­o­lu­tion cam­era can pick up de­tails as small as 30cm (Chan­drayaan-1 cam­era had 1m res­o­lu­tion). The indige­nous syn­thetic aper­ture radar used this time has dual band (fre­quency), whereas the Nasa-im­ported one used in Chan­drayaan-1 had just one band.

An­other se­nior Isro sci­en­tist told TOI that the syn­thetic aper­ture radar will help Isro make ac­cu­rate es­ti­mates of wa­ter in the po­lar craters. “It can capture images of lunar rocks of up to one foot. This cam­era will be used in the Car­tosat-3 se­ries of sur­veil­lance satellites and also the Indo-US joint ven­ture NISAR satel­lite due for launch in 2022,” he said.

Si­van shows the or­biter (right) and the lan­der at a press con­fer­ence on Aug 20

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