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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Promotes Moon Fever in India

July 29, 2019 (EIRNS)—The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully carried out the maneuvers to raise Chandrayaan-2 Earth orbit more quickly than originally planned, so its landing on the South Pole of the Moon is now scheduled for the original date of Sept. 7, despite a launch delay of a week caused by technical factors.

With Indians looking forward enthusiastically toward this unprecedented accomplishment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on his radio show, “Mann Ki Baat,” that the government will initiate a quiz competition among schools across the country. The winners of the competition will get a trip to the ISRO Center in Sriharikota to watch the lunar landing of Chandrayaan-2 “up close” as it happens.

“I invite young boys and girls to a Quiz Competition,” the Prime Minister said.

“Your inquisitiveness regarding Space, India’s Space Mission, Science and Technology will be the salient features of this Quiz Competition. For example, how is a rocket launched, how is a satellite placed in orbit, what information do we gather from a satellite, what is A-Sat, and many more of these.”

His challenge was reported in The Hindu BusinessLine.

Space.com reported that Chandrayaan-2 is carrying two very miniaturized laser reflectors (sets of prisms) to place near the Moon’s South Pole—resuming the placement of such reflectors by Apollo astronauts a half-century ago. The Apollo reflectors (Lunar Laser Ranging experiment) are still being used successfully, but are much larger, and their purpose is to provide range to lasers on Earth.

These miniaturized laser rangers are developed by the National Institute for Nuclear Physics-Frascati National Labs, in Italy. Space.com interviewed by email Executive Technologist Dr. Simone Dell’Agnello, who explained that these are not to be located by lasers on Earth, but are a kind of lunar (and Martian) GPS for orbiting satellites.

The Chandrayaan-2 microreflector is “designed to be measured by lunar and Martian orbiters equipped with lasers,” he said. This will tell the orbiter its altitude and position, and potentially its velocity. The Frascati team is also developing the Next Generation Lunar Reflector laser ranging array for NASA’s Artemis program.

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