Cabinet nod for Chandrayaan-II

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New Delhi, Sep 18 (PTI) As space scientists prepare for
India's maiden moon odyssey, the government Thursday approved
another lunar mission which entails landing a rover on the
earth's natural satellite.

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, gave the nod to Chandrayaan-II which
is to be an Indo-Russian mission with a projected launch in

The Cabinet also approved upgrading the associated
existing ground segment at a total cost of Rs 425 crore
including a foreign exchange component of Rs 293.50 crore,
Information and Broadcasting Minister P. R. Dasmunsi told
reporters here.

Scientists are planning to land a rover on the moon for
carrying out chemical analysis of the lunar surface and
explore other resources there.

"In situ chemical analysis and resource exploration is
the main objective of Chandrayaan-II," a scientist associated
with the mission said.

India had begun initial technical discussions on
Chandrayaan-II which is expected to be a much shorter mission
than Chandrayaan-I scheduled for launch later this year.

An agreement for Chandrayaan-II was signed by Indian
Space Research Organisation (I.S.R.O.) and Roskosmos, the
Russian Federal Space Agency during Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh's visit to Moscow in November last year.

Mineral samples from the moon contained Helium 3, a
variant of the gas used in refrigerators, and Chandrayaan-II
will also look out for the gas which experts believe may offer
a solution to energy shortages. The current Chinese moon
mission is also exploring this prized source of energy.

Chandrayaan-II will benefit from the country's maiden
moon mission which will survey the lunar surface to produce a
complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional
topography over a two-year period.

The survey of the lunar surface will help scientists
identify the exact place for landing the rover and strategic
locations to carry out experiments.

I.S.R.O. recently established a 32-meter diameter antenna
at Byalalu near Bangalore for providing tracking and command
support for Chandrayaan-I.

The antenna and associated systems are the first steps in
building the Indian Deep Space Network (I.D.S.N.), that is
vital for facilitating a two-way radio communication link
between the spacecraft and the earth.

The D.S.N.-32 project will provide I.S.R.O. the
capability to handle deep space missions besides allowing it
to extend cross-support to similar missions by other nations
because of its inter-operable features, world standards
specifications and state-of-the-art capabilities.

Besides six Indian instruments, the mission is carrying
payloads from the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K. and Sweden.

"All systems are progressing as per schedule for April
2008 launch," a scientist said.

The first phase will predominantly have remote sensing
equipment like X-rays and gamma and laser imaging machines.

The remote sensing satellite will weigh 1,304 kgs (590
kg initial orbit mass and 504 kg dry mass) and carry high
resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near
infra-red, soft and hard X-ray frequencies.