After the success of the Chandrayaan-I lunar probe, which is still orbiting the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that work on the successor – Chandrayaan-II – has already begun, and should be launched by 2013.
At a recent function, ISRO Chief G Madhavan Nair said that apropos to earlier reports of a launch by 2012, the work will take a year longer as the scientists are still figuring out some aspects of the mission.
The Chandrayaan-II probe is supposed to carry a lunar rover with it, which is posing as the biggest problem. Since there is no atmosphere on the moon, the rover cannot be parachuted down from orbit. The scientists are currently working on other alternatives, Nair said.
This decision also affects how the rover itself and the entire probe will have to be constructed. Whether it has a soft or a semi-hard landing decides the weight of the rover (expected to be between 30 and 100 kgs) and all the apparatus to carry it. The weight and size also decides the layout of the solar panels on the rover, which is currently expected to operate for up to a month.
The vehicle is expected to explore the lunar surface, pick up samples, do on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the mother craft Chandrayaan-II, which will relay the same back to ISRO.
Meanwhile, ISRO also announced that it is looking to launch a weather satellite to help the Indian Meteorological Department in their forecasts.