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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Chandrayaan-2: Why India is landing on moon’s south pole

Chandrayaan-2 aims at reaching that part of the moon which none among the US, USSR and China could to fetch He-3 that is worth millions

New Delhi: Chandrayaan-2, which is considered a milestone for the Indian Space Mission, is going to take off in a few hours. All the preparations have been completed. The countdown of the mission is going on.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is aiming at the landing of Chandrayaan-2 on the moon’s south pole. According to ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 will collect information about the geographical environment of the moon, the mineral elements, the outer layer of its atmosphere and the availability of water.

Under the Mission Moon, Chandrayaan-2 will move about the southern pole of the moon. The US, former USSR and China, which have reached the moon, have not yet stepped on this part of the satellite.

A lot of information about the southern hemisphere of the moon are unknown. During the Chandrayaan-1 mission by India, the snow was detected in this part. It triggered the interest of the world in this part of the Moon.

India is expected to add to the human knowledge about the moon from this mission and thus attain an edge in the competition for science and technology among nations. Through Chandrayaan-2, India may discover precious treasures, which could meet human energy requirements for the next 500 years. It is a proposition of making trillions of dollars. The energy from the moon will not only be safe but will be free of pollution caused by oil, coal and nuclear waste.

The south pole of the moon is quite interesting because a large part of the surface remains in the shadow. Therefore, it is more likely to have retained any water content that it ever had. The cold craters (or pits) contain fossilised evidence of the initial solar system.

Chandrayaan-2 will use the Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover, which are supposed to land at approximately 70°S latitude in the field between two pits: Maginus (named after Italian mathematician Giovanni Antonio Magini) S and Simpelius (named after Scottish mathematician-linguist Hugh Sempill) N.

Challenges for India in Mission Chandrayaan-2 are many. India will have a soft landing on the moon surface for the first time. On landing on the moon, India will become the fourth country after the US, the USSR and China to do so.

India was about to launch Chandrayaan-2 on 15 July, but due to some leakage in the cryogenic engine and lack of adequate pressure in a helium tank, the launch was postponed to today.

Sivan of ISRO Chief has said that the 15 minutes before landing will be quite challenging. He said that these 15 minutes will be very stressful because ISRO will have a soft landing on the moon surface for the first time.

Chandrayaan-2, helium-3 and money

The moon, especially its region around the south pole, contains helium-3. Helium-3 (3He, tralphium) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron (common helium having two protons and two neutrons). Other than protium (ordinary hydrogen), helium-3 is the only stable isotope of any element with more protons than neutrons. Helium-3 was discovered in 1939. The price of a tonne of helium-3 can be around $5 billion.

Helium-3 with a mass of 2.5 million tonnes can be brought from the moon, which can fetch India millions of dollars.

China had sent its Yangtze E4 to the moon to discover Helium-3 this year. Ever since, the interest of the US, Russia, Japan and the European Union has increased in the southern hemisphere of the moon.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of the world’s leading e-commerce company Amazon, wants to set up a colony on the moon.

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