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Isro's Chandrayaan-3 to lift off for Moon in early 2021, without orbiter

The mission has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and the follow-up lockdowns. The launch which was planned for 2020 will now take off for the Lunar surface sometime in early 2021

Chandrayaan-3 | Chandrayaan-1 | Coronavirus

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh | Photo: ISRO
Isro had indicated that the third moon mission will utilise the orbiter already in the lunar orbit.

The Indian Space and Research Organisation (Isro) is swiftly moving ahead with the mission likely to be launched in early 2021. However, unlike Chandrayaan-2, it will not have an orbiter but will include a lander and a rover, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.

The mission has been delayed by the pandemic and the follow-up lockdowns. The launch which was planned for 2020 will now take off for the Lunar surface sometime in early 2021.

will be a mission repeat of Chandrayaan-2 and will include a Lander and Rover similar to that of Chandrayaan-2, but will not have an orbiter, a statement quoting Singh said. Planned to land on the South Pole of the Moon, Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22 last year. However, the lander Vikram hard-landed on September 7, crashing India's dream to become the first nation to successfully touch down on the lunar surface in its maiden attempt.

ALSO READ: Chandrayaan-2 completes one year around Moon, all systems intact, says Isro

The orbiter of the mission is working fine and has been sending data, had indicated that the third will utilise the orbiter already in the lunar orbit.


Analysis of lunar laser data shows that the Moon has a fluid core. (NASA)

Moon is rusting discovers Chandrayaan-1

has sent images that show that Moon may be rusting along the poles. The sign of this finding is that even though the surface of the Moon is known to have iron-rich rocks, it is not known for the presence of water and oxygen, which are the two elements needed to interact with iron to create rust.

A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization's orbiter, which discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon's surface in 2008.

ALSO READ: Is the Moon drifting away from Earth? Laser beams unravel a new mystery

The mystery starts with the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows out from the Sun, bombarding Earth and the Moon with hydrogen. Hydrogen makes it harder for hematite to form. It's what is known as a reducer, meaning it adds electrons to the materials it interacts with. That's the opposite of what is needed to make hematite: For iron to rust, it requires an oxidizer, which removes electrons. And while the Earth has a magnetic field shielding it from this hydrogen, the Moon does not.


The blue areas in this composite image from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) aboard the Indian Space Research Organization's orbiter show water concentrated at the Moon's poles.

"It's very puzzling," lead author Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii said. "The Moon is a terrible environment for hematite to form in." The paper offers a three-pronged model to explain how rust might form in such an environment. For starters, while the Moon lacks an atmosphere, it is in fact home to trace amounts of oxygen. The source of that oxygen: Earth's magnetic field trails behind the planet like a windsock.

The Moon has been inching away from Earth for billions of years, so it's also possible that more oxygen hopped across this rift when the two were closer in the ancient past.

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First Published: Mon, September 07 2020. 10:11 IST