India: The first ever complete map of moon’s surface, developed by NASA, will guide India’s second unmanned lunar mission – Chandrayaan-2 – the way around on moon. India’s lunar mission is scheduled for 2013. The lunar map will help Chandrayaan-2 determine precise landing point on the lunar surface, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
As a member of the international lunar exploration working group, India is in line to procure NASA’s lunar map data.
The Chandrayaan-2 will comprise a 1,200 kg Russian-designed and developed moon lander carrying a single 15 kg rover developed by ISRO in collaboration with Russia. The lander will also carry a 35 kg scientific payload powered by solar panels, an equipment to analyse the lunar soil and detect the presence of water, a seismometer, a laser reflector, and will place a landing beacon to facilitate future moon landings.
According to ISRO, the data being compiled will include digital elevations and terrain maps which will act as fundamental reference for future scientific and human exploration missions to the moon, beginning with Chandrayaan-2.
“The data will be used by space scientists for a period of six months before being put into the public domain,” said RR Navalgund, director of Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC).
Chandrayaan-2 will pick up from where Chandrayaan-1 (October 2008-August 2009) left off after recording the discovery of water and water ice on moon, particularly in moon’s polar regions.
These regions are not reached by sunlight and not much is known about how deep these craters are near the lunar poles.
But what space scientists do know is that these function as ideal cold storage capable of accumulating and preserving water ice and water molecules which will tremendously help future lunar exploratory missions.