A Look at the Chandrayaan-2 Payloads September 12, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-2, Indian Space Research Organization, Roscosmos , trackback
Last week, the scientific payloads that’ll be on board the orbiter and rover of the Chandrayaan-2 mission were announced!
As it was NASA’a M3 Mapper and Mini-RF on board the Chandrayaan-1 that made two of the great lunar water discoveries (molecules in soil and massive amounts of water ice at the north pole), one of these 7 instruments (as reported by the Times of India) could very well be the one to make the next big lunar splash…
1. Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer and Solar X-ray monitor (XSM).
- Similar to a payload on the first Chandrayaan, these will map major elements on the lunar surface—namely magnesium, aluminium, silicon, calcium and iron.
2. L and S band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
“…for probing the first few tens of metres of the lunar surface for the presence of different constituents, including water ice. SAR is expected to provide further evidence confirming the presence of water ice below the shadowed regions of the moon…” – “Payloads for Chandrayaan-2 finalised, to carry 7 instruments”, The Times of India
- Icing on the lunar water cake…and, of course, potentially valuable ($$$) info on what deposits there are and where.
3. Imaging IR Spectrometer (IIRS).
“…for mapping of lunar surface over a wide wavelength range for the study of minerals, water molecules and hydroxyl present…”- The Times of India
- This will confirm the levels of water that is collected in the soil and minerals, as opposed to the water ice (as payload 2 above will investigate). This should be a comparatively tiny amount of water, but any in situ amount is both helpful and potentially valuable.
4. Neutral Mass Spectrometer (ChACE-2)
“…to carry out a detailed study of the lunar exosphere.” -The Times Of India
- The lunar exosphere is what little ‘atmosphere’ the moon has, and pertains to the interactions of ions and the solar wind. Japan’s Kaguya was the first craft to detect the Moon originating ions outside of the solar wind, so this is an area really just beginning to be dug into.
5. Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2)
“…for preparing a three-dimensaional map essential for studying the lunar mineralogy and geology.” -The Times of India
- Lunar orbiters love their Terrain Cameras, and after seeing the amazing images that the LRO’s been churning out in spades, to have a potentially next-gen set of imagery in 2013 could make for a spectacular view.
1. Laser induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).
- As the U.S. Army puts it, a LIBS is “simple, straightforward, and powerful”! It ‘atomizes and excites particles‘, and “in principle, LIBS can analyse any matter regardless of its physical state, be it solid, liquid or gas“…which sounds really convenient for detecting helium-3, it being a gas that collects in the lunar soil and that can be released (and therefore collected for use) by heat.
2. Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope (APIXS).
- Also for determining chemical composition, this instrument (at least, on a Mars rover equivalent) is geared more towards geologic study: formation of rock, crust, etc.
It’s interesting to note that, unlike on the Chandrayaan-1, none of these seven instruments are international: they’re all ISRO, even on the Russian-built rover.
A quote from a September 5th interview with former ISRO chairman Srinivas Laxman, also from the India Times:
“A significant aspect of Chandrayaan-2 is that the orbiter, unlike in Chandrayaan-1, does not have any foreign payloads even though NASA and the European Space Agency showed interest. Is there any reason why foreign payloads have been removed?
As per the present plan we do not have any weight in the orbiter for foreign payloads. We were keen on giving an opportunity to our scientists.”- “‘We’re Launching Chandrayaan-2 for a Total Coverage of the Moon'”, The Times of India
Also of note, four of the seven instruments have connections to either helium-3 or water, which look to both be potentially valuable resources.
Is India getting serious about a headstart on them?