The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has announced plans to launch an orbiter, a lander and a rover in April to the Moon. The rover is set to explore the Moon's south pole for 14 continuous days and send back data and photographs as part of the Chandrayaan-2 (Lunar2) mission.
In the first Chandrayaan mission, Isro had sent an orbiter to the Moon. And now, in the second mission, the space agency eyes to actually land on moon's surface. A report by the Times of India (ToI) mentions the rocket, which will carry the payload, will be a heavy GSLV MkII. The spacecraft that will have the orbiter, the lander and the rover will weigh 3,290 kg.
Isro chairman Dr K Sivan, speaking to ToI said: "Chandrayaan-2 is a challenging mission as for the first time we will carry an orbiter, a lander and a rover to the moon. The launch date schedule is sometime in April. Once the GSLV rocket carrying the spacecraft is launched from Sriharikota, the orbiter will reach the moon's orbit in one to two months. (The moon's orbit is 382,000 km away from the earth's surface)."
Sivan also said that once the spacecraft reaches lunar orbit, the lander would get detached from the orbiter and do a "soft-landing near the south pole of the Moon". Next, the rover will get detached from the lander and move on the lunar surface. Sivan also added that the six-wheeled rover has been designed in such a way that it will spend a lunar day or 14 Earth days on the Moon's surface and walk up to 150-200 metres. "It will do several experiments and on-site chemical analysis of the surface," Sivan said.
The rover is expected to begin transmitting information back to Earth within 15 minutes of deployment. After its initial 14 day mission, the rover will power down and wait for the Sun to recharge its batteries when the light comes back to that part of the Moon after which it will resume its mission, notes Sivan.
Apart from the rover, the orbiter is also equipped with cameras and other instruments that will be sending images back to Earth.
As for the exact launch date, Sivan noted that the launch date "will depend on various factors like the moon's relative position with respect to the Earth."