ISRO working on ambitious lunar missions LUPEX, Chandrayaan-4: Official

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Pune (Maharashtra) [India]: Following the successful soft-landing of the Chandrayaan-3 lander on the Moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now working on two other lunar exploration missions.

Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC/ISRO), Ahmedabad, Nilesh Desai said the two ambitious lunar missions — LuPEx and Chandrayaan-4 aim at landing huge 350 kg landers on 90-degree (the darker side) of the moon with precise landing technology and sample return mission respectively.

Addressing a gathering on the 62nd foundation day celebration of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune on Friday, Desai said, “After the euphoria generated after Chandrayaan 3 mission now we are going to work on the joint Lunar Polar exploration Mission, this time (Chandrayaan-3) we went up to 70 degrees, in LuPEx mission we will go up to 90 degrees to observe the dark side of the moon and landing a huge rover there which weigh up to 350 kg, Chandrayaan-3 rover was 30 kg only therefore lander will also be huge in this mission.”

Speaking about the Chandrayaan 4 Mission, Desai said,”During a discussion about space programmes after Chandrayaan 3 success, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted us to take up the bigger challenges now.”

“There are challenges with the new mission…hopefully we will be able to do it in the next 5 to 10 years,” the scientist said.

He added, “The Japanese have already launched a moon mission on September 7 that will do precise landing, so this technology will be used in this mission also becouse we trying to do a very challenging precise landing on the rim of a crater at 90 degree with 350 kg rover with an exploration area of 1 km x 1km (Chandrayan 3 was 500 meter x500 meter).”

He elaborated that while the Chandrayan 3 mission was for only one moon day the forthcoming mission will last for a duration of 7 lunar days, which equals almost 100 earth days… S these are the challanges with the new mission so hopefully we will be able to do it in next 5 to 10 years”.

On the Chandrayaan-4 mission, the scientist said, “We have planned Chandrayaan-4 mission this would be called lunar sample return Mission in this mission we will land and will be able to come back with a sample from lunar surface …in this mission, the landing will be similar like Chandrayan-3 but the central module will come back after docking with the orbiting module which will later separate near to earth atmosphere and re-entry module will come back with the sample of the soil and rock of the moon …it’s a very ambitious mission hopefully in next five to seven years we will meet this challenge of bringing sample from the surface of the moon.”

He further said, “It would need two launch vehicles so there will be two launches because four modules (Transfer module Lander Module Ascender Module and Re-entry module) to be launched, RM and TM would be Parked in the lunar orbit and two will go down from which Ascender Module will get separated from lander module and would collect the sample ..we have all this on paper right now and we are working on different technology to achieve this and it’s achievable with available capabilities at the ISRO.”

Presently, ISRO is in the midst of preparations for its next space venture in collaboration with the Japanese space agency, JAXA. Dubbed as LuPEX, or Lunar Polar Exploration.

On August 23, India took a giant leap as the Chandrayaan-3 lander module successfully landed on the moon’s South Pole, making it the first country to have achieved the historic feat and bringing to an end the disappointment over the crash landing of the Chandrayaan-2, four years ago. India became the fourth country – after the US, China, and Russia – to have successfully landed on the moon’s surface.

After having landed, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover performed different sets of tasks on the lunar surface, including finding the presence of sulphur and other minor elements, recording relative temperature, and listening to movements around it.

Soon after the soft landing of Chandrayaan-3, India launched its maiden solar mission Aditya-L1 on September 2. So far in its journey, the spacecraft has undergone four earth-bound manoeuvres and a Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvres, all successfully. In the process, the spacecraft successfully escaped the sphere of Earth’s influence.

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