The Chandrayaan-2 mission will look for water near the Moon's South Pole
India's Chandrayaan-2 mission after its lift-off from Sriharikota will head close to the South Pole of the Moon for a soft landing. Almost the entire Chandrayaan-2's orbiter, lander and rover have been designed and made in India, and it will use its most powerful rocket launcher, GSLV Mk III, to carry the 2.4 tonne orbiter, which has a mission life of about a year.
"We are going near the South Pole because it is a different place than what has been done earlier. You can expect to find something different only when you look at newer places," former ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar told NDTV.
"… This time we are going to a place where others have not gone," said Mr Kumar, explaining why the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has chosen the spot close to the Moon's South Pole.
Once the Vikram lander separates, it will head to a region that is little explored till date – most lunar landings have taken place in the northern hemisphere or in the equatorial region.
The Chinese mission landed in the northernmost part, followed by Russia's Luna missions. Most of the American lunar landings, including Apollo missions, were in the Moon's equatorial region.
After landing, the rover will carry out chemical analysis of the lunar soil and the lander will measure the Moon's quakes and dig into the lunar crust, among other things.
India will continue its search for water on the lunar surface after Chandryaan-1 in 2009 made the breakthrough of discovering the presence of water molecules on the Moon's surface. Only when native water can be found on the Moon can humans ever hope to colonise it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to send a manned mission into orbit by 2022. Most experts say the geo-strategic stakes are small – but that India's low-cost model could win commercial satellite and orbiting deals.
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