India Plans to Land on the Dark Side of the Moon

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Well, far side of the moon technically.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that they plan to launch a rover to explore the the unchartered face of the moon. The primary objective of this launch, codenamed Chandrayaan-2, is to search for deposits of Helium-3 on the moon.

Scientists believe that there are much higher deposits of the element on the moon because it does not have a magnetic field like Earth. As such, solar winds have been able to deposit Helium-3 on the surface. These hypotheses were confirmed by various Apollo missions over the years.

The Helium-3 isotope is valuable as it is present in minimal quantities on our planet. However, space agencies believe that there is around a million metric tons on the moon. Of this, about quarter can realistically be transported to Earth. According to the Economic Times, Gerard Kulcinski of NASA believes that this amount of Helium-3 will be enough to meet Earth’s energy demands for between two and five centuries.

No space agency has landed a rover on the far side of the moon, and only China – with their Chang’e 3 mission in 2013 – has even landed a rover on the moon anytime this millennium. India had launched a previous moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 in 2008, which orbited the celestial body and sent down a probe but did not land on the moon.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission is part of ISRO’s and India’s on-going mission to become a space superpower. To find out all about their progress, we talked to Ankit Bhateja of Xovian Technologies. You can watch that interview here.

K. Sivan, chairman of ISRO, believes that this mission could catapult India to the forefront of both space development and energy control. “The countries which have the capacity to bring that source [Helium-3] from the moon to Earth will dictate the process,’’ he said. “I don’t want to be just a part of them, I want to lead them.’’

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