With a will to address this curiosity and attract innovative minds across the globe, Google in 2007 announced a handsome reward of about $20 million for “landing a robot on the surface of the moon, travelling 500 metres over the lunar surface and sending images and data back to the earth” . The competition is termed as Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) or sometimes referred to as Moon 2.0
Countries across the globe registered for the same, and from India we had the participation of Team Indus. It consists of professionals from different walks of life such as science, technology, finance and media. The project involves construction of a robot which in turn has to successfully complete the aforementioned challenges. Thanks to some philanthrophists, the team could get adequate funding to build the required machinery. The place where this masterpiece would be developed is known as Axiom Research Labs Pvt. Ltd.
Having cleared a series of tests on the surface of the earth such as “landing test” and “endurance test”, the spacecraft is envisaged to transport two rovers in the lunar lander. The lunar lander would be the primary control and communication unit.
The entire mission is meticulously crafted as “Launch – Coast – Burn – Direct Lunar Descent” trajectory. The launching of these rovers would take place from the Bengaluru launching facility. Indian Space Research Organization ( commonly known as ISRO ) has offered assistance for the same.
After the lift off, the rocket will insert the Team Indus spacecraft into an elliptical orbit. The spacecraft will then embark upon a 21 day journey to the moon! The rocket used for the same is an Indian PSLV ( Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) has a proven track record and has been to the moon previously. The launching is supposed to take place in late 2017.
The spacecraft would enter a 70,000 km orbit from a height of 880 km and circle the earth two and a half times. The mechanism used to inject the craft into moon’s orbit is termed as TLI- Translunar Injection. This would help the spacecraft escape earth’s gravity and propel it with an enhanced velocity towards the moon.
The landing site for the Team Indus moon mission is the Mare Imbrium, a vast lava plain. The lunar soil in this region is loose and hovering over it is a tricky proposition.
Purpose and Observations :
The most significant purpose of this mission is Imaging. The craft is supposed to carry a new line of state-of-the-art cameras. For capturing the moon, they would create a facility where the solar by angles and luminosity can be replicated. Obstacle negotiation would be tested in open fields which have strategically positioned rocks.
On a concluding note, this mission can be perceived from several spectrums ranging from science and technology to finance and is not just about winning the prize, but in itself is a brilliant opportunity to examine certain parameters, and collect data which can be utilised for further studies.
Wishing our own Team Indus all the best for this expedition!
– from a space enthusiast.
References and Image courtesy : Team Indus official website www.teamindus.in