India ISRO launches rover to dig nuclear fuel on the Moon
New Delhi : In the recent development, ISRO in India is planning a space program which aims to visit the south side of the moon, a place where no nation has aimed before. Once, the mission is successful, scientists will be able to study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars.
The nation space agency will launch a rover in October to explore unexplored territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth and is abundant on the moon. Once harnessed, it would theoretically the meet global energy demands lasting for 250 years.
The mission would freeze India’s place among the list of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains. The governments of the U.S., China, India, Japan and Russia are competing with startups and billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are set to launch satellites, robotic landers, astronauts and tourists into the outer space.
The rover landing is one step in a dreamt of series for ISRO that includes putting a space station in orbit and, potentially, an Indian crew on the moon. However, the government is yet to set a timeframe.
“We are ready and waiting,’’ said Sivan, an aeronautics engineer who joined ISRO in 1982. “We’ve equipped ourselves to take on this particular program.’’
China with its Chang’e 3 mission in 2013 is the only country to send lander and rover on the moon this century. The nation plans to send a probe to the unexplored lunar space.
U.S., President Donald Trump signed a directive calling for astronauts to return to the moon, and NASA’s proposed $19 billion budget this fiscal year calls for launching a lunar orbiter by the early 2020s.
ISRO’s estimated budget is less than a 10th of that, about $1.7 billion, but accomplishing feats on the cheap has been a hallmark of the agency since the 1960s. The upcoming mission will cost about $125 million – or less than a quarter of Snap Inc. co-founder Evan Spiegel’s compensation last year, the highest for an executive of a publicly traded company, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index.
The upcoming launch is not India’s first moon mission. The Chandrayaan-1 craft, launched in October 2008, completed more than 3,400 orbits and ejected a probe that discovered molecules of water in the surface for the first time.