Luna Resurs

Luna Resurs is a currently developed joint Russian-Indian mission to the Moon, targeting southern polar regions. The mission will carry an Indian rover, Chandrayaan-2. The aim of the mission is to investigate presence of volatiles on the Moon, in particular, water ice in permanently shadowed craters. The launch, planned for 2013, will likely coincide with the mission of a Chinese rover, Chang’e-3. This has provided grounds for claims that we are observing a new space race between India and China.

In 2010, a paper by E.N. Slyuta titled Proposed Landing Sites for Russian Luna-Resurs Mission to the Moon has been presented during the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The paper lists two landing sites: 87.2°S, 68°E (primary) and 88.5°S, 297°E (backup). Although the paper includes maps showing the landing site locations in the South Polar region, it does not give detailed landing site topography.

Using the published Kaguya LALT dataset, I have rendered maps showing the landing sites, available here in PDF format.

Slyuta describe the primary landing site as located

between craters Shoemaker (D = 63 km) and Faustini (D = 45 km) (Fig. 1). The landing site is at a relatively flat plain with the hundred meters altitude range. The illumination rate of the landing site is high enough and reaches 40-50 % (Fig. 2), including both summer and winter periods. Following the topography the illumination rate at the northern and southern parts of the ellipse decreases to 30 % and less [19]. The closest permanently shaded areas are in craters Shoemaker and Faustini (Fig. 2) as well as in small craters near the northern border of the ellipse. Permanently shaded areas in craters Shoemaker and Faustini are the largest cold traps at the South Pole.

The secondary landing site

is located at the western rim of crater de Gerlach (D = 31 km) (Fig. 1). Deep crater of 15 km in diameter, which is a double cold trap, is located in a southeast part of crater de Gerlach. The crater rim within the landing ellipse is a flat-top height dominating over surrounding area by ~2 km. The illumination rate of the landing site is high, and even during the winter period does not fall below 70-75 %. […] Permanently shaded areas are in small craters near the eastern border of the landing ellipse and in crater de Gerlach. The mentioned 15- km crater is a double cold trap. And small craters inside it will be the threefold cold traps. The equilibrium temperature in the latters can reach 30-40 K [4]. The landing site No2 is in a zone of the maximum hydrogen concentration of 145 ppm in the South Pole [20]. The basic objects of research are permanently shaded areas in small craters near the east border of the landing ellipse and in a double trap in crater de Gerlach.

Thus, the envisioned mission profile appears to be landing in a well-illuminated, highland area and using a rover to drive to the potential cold traps for in situ inspection. As you can see from the map, in case of a primary site, the interesting areas are likely the -3200m depression inside Faustini and the -4100m depression inside Shoemaker. That is respectively ca. 12 km and ca. 25 km from the center of the landing ellipse. For a 15kg rover, that is really going to be a challenging job!

See also:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: