Coimbatore: Donald A Thomas, former NASA astronaut, said that everyone at the US space agency and people from all over the world would be watching when Chandrayaan-2 will land on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2, India’s ambitious mission to the surface of the moon, is scheduled to land on the lunar surface on 7 September.
“Chandrayaan-2 will be the first spacecraft to land near the moon’s South Pole and this is where NASA hopes to land an astronaut in about five years from now. Not just NASA, but the whole world would be interested in knowing about the moon and the universe by following Chandrayaan-2,” the former NASA astronaut said.
Speaking to reporters after attending an event at the Park College of Engineering and Technology near Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Thomas explained, “We have landed near the equator of the moon before but never at the South Pole. The South Pole is a very special location, we think there is ice in some of the craters that are permanently shadowed.”
“If we find ice there then we can have water and from that oxygen and hydrogen,” the former NASA astronaut added.
Answering questions about the conditions on the moon, Thomas said, “The moon is a tough place to live. There is a lot of radiation out there. In day time the temperature there could reach 100 degrees Celsius and during night time minus 100 degrees Celsius.”
Chandrayaan-2 will be India’s first expedition on attempting soft landing on the surface of the moon. India will be the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to carry out such a mission to the lunar surface.
The spacecraft which took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on 22 July, revolved around the earth’s orbit for nearly 23 days and began its lunar journey on 14 August.