US space agency NASA has confirmed that ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 will carry its laser retroreflector arrays which will help scientists make precise measurements of the distance to the Moon, reports The Hindu.
Developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Chandrayaan 2 will be India’s second lunar mission after Chandrayaan 1. Scheduled to launch next month (April 2019) by GSLV MK-III, the mission will carry a tiny six-wheeled moon rover which will soft land near the south pole of the moon.
Retroreflectors, which will be carried by the upcoming mission, are sophisticated mirrors which reflect laser light signals sent from the Earth. These signals can then help locate exactly where the lander is and researchers can use this location data to calculate the Moon’s distance from Earth more accurately.
Though retroreflectors are already present on Moon’s surface, they are huge which limit their usability. The new individual reflectors would waste fewer laser pulses than the existing arrays and allow for more precise measurements of the moon’s surface.
“We’re trying to populate the entire surface with as many laser reflector arrays as we can possibly get there,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, while speaking during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held at Texas, US, last week.
NASA’s laser retroreflector arrays will also be carried by Israeli lander Beresheet, which is expected to touch down on 11 April.
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