Sunday, September 24

Russia to launch lunar probes into space against Chandrayaan, with the aim of locating water on the Moon.

Russia is making final arrangements for the launch of its first lunar landing spacecraft in 47 years and is aiming to make a soft landing on the moon’s south pole, where water ice may be present.

Astronomers have been pondering the question of water on the moon for centuries, given that the region is 100 times less humid than the Sahara. In 2018, NASA maps revealed water ice in the shadowed regions of the lunar surface, and in 2020, NASA confirmed the presence of such water areas from sunlight.

A Soyuz 2.1v rocket is set to launch the Luna-25 spacecraft from the Vostochny cosmodrome, which is located 3,450 miles east of Moscow, at 02:11 Moscow time (04:41am IST) on Friday. It is expected to reach the moon on August 23, according to Russia’s space agency.

The Russian lunar mission, which is the first to do so since 1976, is competing with India and the United States for space exploration.

Asif Siddiqi, a history professor at Fordham University, informed Reuters that there is swagger in this matter since the last one was in 1976.

“There are many reasons why Russia’s ambition to reach the moon is conflated with other factors, but ultimately it speaks to its national strength on a global level.”

The first person to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong, but the Soviet Union’s Luna-2 mission and Luna-9 mission were notable for their successful missions of reaching the lunar surface in 1959 and 1966.

Moscow has prioritized its Mars exploration efforts over other missions since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. The Luna-25 mission is heavily dependent on the Ukraine conflict, as the Kremlin asserts that the sanctions imposed by the West have not had the desired effect on Russia’ economy.

Saddiqi stated that if Russia prevailed and the Indian probe succeeded, it would be a turning point, citing the decline in Russia’s space programs over the past few decades.

What is the nature of water that exists on the moon?

The moon has been the subject of investigation by major powers such as the United States, China, India, Japan, and the European Union in recent years. However, both attempts were unsuccessful, with one instance being a failed lunar landing last year and another failing Israeli lunar mission in 2019.

The south pole has not yet experienced a smooth landing by any country. The Chandrayaan-2 mission carried by India was unsuccessful in 2019.

The challenging terrain makes landing there difficult, but the discovery of water ice there could be significant as it could provide fuel, oxygen, and drinking water.

The most significant scientific challenge, according to Maxim Litvak, the head of the planning group for Luna-25 scientific equipment, is to erect a landing pad where no one else has landed.

He pointed out that the Luna-25 would be in orbit for at least one year to collect samples on the moon, and there are indications of ice in the soil surrounding the landing area.

The Roskosmos spacecraft would take five days to reach the moon, and it would spend 5-7 days in lunar orbit before landing at one of three potential locations near the pole.

Chandrayaan-3 is set to conduct experiments for two weeks, while Luna-25 will be stationed on the moon for a year.

Luna-25, weighing 1.8 tons and equipped with 31 kg (68 pounds) of research equipment, will use a scoop to collect rock samples from varying depths up to 15 cm (6 inches) to determine the existence of frozen water that could sustain human life.

It has the ability to explore the moon’s regolith up to 10 centimetres below the surface and includes a dust monitor and specialized ion energy-mass analyzer for measuring ions parameters in the exosphere of the planet.

For decades, Russia has been preparing for the mission. However, the launch, which was originally planned for October 2021, has taken almost two years to come off the rails. The European Space Agency had intended to test its Pilot-D navigation camera by connecting it to Luna-25, but ended its association with the project after invaders invaded Ukraine in February of last year.

A local official stated that the residents of a village in Russia’s far east will be evacuated from their homes at 7.30am on Friday due to the possibility of one of the rocket stages responsible for Launch Luna-25 falling to earth.

Thomson Reuters 2023.

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