Well, it’s not the famous winter of Game of Thrones, but the 14-day lunar night has arrived where India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover made what IRSO officials have called a “hard landing” two weeks ago with no communication between them and ground controllers.
Since neither vehicle was designed to survive the frigid temperatures of the lunar night, the Indian space agency has called it a day in a rather bare bones announcement.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.
India has decided to once again postpone the launch of its ambitious Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission out of an abundance of caution.
Earlier this year, the ISRO had launched GSAT-6A, a military communication satellite, but lost communication with it. Following this, the ISRO also recalled the launch of GSAT-11 from from Kourou, French Guiana, for additional technical checks. Last September, the PSLV- C39 mission, carrying the IRNSS-1H navigation satellite, failed after the heat shield refused to open and release the satellite….
“We don’t want to take any risk,” said the official, requesting anonymity. The official added that there are certain windows during which the mission could be launched. The next launch window is likely to be in January. Repeated attempts to solicit a response from ISRO chairman K. Sivan were not successful.
In April, Mr. Sivan informed the government about the postponement of the launch to October-November. A national-level committee to review Chandrayaan-2 recommended some additional tests before the mission could take off.
The mission will put an orbiter around the moon and a lander and rover on the surface. It is a follow-on to the successful Chandrayaan-1 orbiter.
Statement of Jason Crusan Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology U. S. House of Representatives
Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon
As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.
Space agencies around the world are planning to launch four missions to other worlds this year, evenly split between the moon and Mars. NASA will orbiters to each destination, while China will attempt to become only the third nation to soft land on the moon. India also looks to make history with its first mission to Mars. (more…)
The Times of India has an interesting Q&A interview with U.R. Rao, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Space Sciences that chose the instruments for ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and lander. He explains why the U.S. and Europe have been shut out of this mission and describes the failures by its predecessor, Chandrayaan-1, that require a follow-up mission.
Later this month, if the Indian space agency’s attempt to launch its largest rocket, the GSLV-D3 with an indigenous cryogenic engine succeeds, then India will join the elite club of five nations in the world to have successfully developed such technology.
For the country’s rocket scientists, the yet-to-be-achieved breakthrough is significant on two fronts–one, they will achieve self reliance and confidence in space technology. Two, India will emerge as a serious player in the $4 billion global satellite launch market.
Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon’s north pole. NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it’s estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice.
Chandrayaan-1 Project Director M Annadurai has been honored with the H.K. Firodia award for his contribution to India’s first lunar mission. Scientist Yash Pal also was honored for his work in promoting science communication and education.
The awards, which recognize Indian scientific achievements,Â are named after the late H.K. Firodia, a leader of the country’s auto industry. Yash Pal was given a cash award of Rs two lakh ($4,298) while Annadurai received Rs one lakh ($2,149).
Why fundamental scientific research has not caught on in India (Comment) Thaindian News
Even as the nation continues to celebrate the success of Chandrayaan, the countryâ€™s first space mission to moon, this is not something one of the seniormost scientists in India, Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, is particularly thrilled about….
An update on the Stewart David Nozette spy case from Talking Points Memo:
The spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington tells TPMmuckraker that it is watching the espionage case of Stewart Nozette closely following a report that the high-level U.S. government scientist traveled to India with two computer thumb drives in January.
“Definitely we have interest in the news,” said spokesman Nadeen Kiani. “The concerned desk officer is watching [developments].”
When contacted, agency spokesperson S Satish said: â€œI have consulted the concerned department but that information cannot be divulged as it is classified.â€
The silence comes amid speculation that India is the “Country A” named in the government’s indictment against Nozette. Although Nozette was arrested for allegedly trying to sell secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Mossad, there are suspicions that he might have been already spying for “Country A.”
The Moon is a big sponge that absorbs electrically charged particles given out by the Sun. These particles interact with the oxygen present in some dust grains on the lunar surface, producing water. This discovery, made by the ESA-ISRO instrument SARA onboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter, confirms how water is likely being created on the lunar surface.