Washington sources reported that India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan 2, scheduled for launch in April, would be carrying a NASA science probe. Chandrayaan 2 will carry NASA owned laser retroreflector arrays that allow scientists to make precise measurements of the distance to the Moon, the US space agency officials said, during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in Texas.
Besides Chandrayaan 2, the science instruments will also be flying to the Moon aboard the Israeli lander Beresheet, due to touch down April 11. Lori Glaze, Acting Director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate was quoted as saying “We’re trying to populate the entire surface with as many laser reflector arrays as we can possibly get there”. Furthermore Glaze did not provide a timeline for the partnership’s creation.
Steve Clarke, the deputy associate administrator for exploration within the Science Mission Directorate said “We were asked rather quickly if there was anything we wanted to contribute to that lander, and we were successful in roughly a two-week time period to come up with an agreement on it”. Moreover retroreflectors are essentially sophisticated mirrors. Scientists on Earth can shoot them with lasers and study the light that is reflected back. That signal can help pinpoint precisely where the lander is, which scientists can use to calculate its and the Moon’s distance from Earth.