Nearly 10 years after the country launched Chandrayan-1 aircraft which completed over 3,400 orbits around the moon, India is once again all set to attempt a similar feat. India's aeronautical body ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) will be sending a rover to the moon to research the prospects of mining helium-3 and water. The nuclear fuel, if acquired, could value around trillion dollars which is big enough to fulfill the worldwide energy needs for two to five centuries.
The mission is to land the rover on the south side of Moon which has never been accessible till now. This is the part of the natural satellite where 1 million metric tons of helium-3 is estimated to reside. However, only 23 per cent of that amount could be fetched and utilised, according to a former member of NASA Advisory Council. The isotope is present on earth as well but the quantity is not as much as to accomplish the energy requirements. Since the moon is not enclosed in a layer of the magnetic field, the isotopes get bombarded and settled on its layer by solar winds.
Once the rover successfully lands, it will be sending images of the crust to the lander which will then come to ISRO for analysing the dominance of helium-3 and water on the crust. If these samples are examined to be appropriate, the organisation will proceed with the plan of mining and bringing it on the earth.
Although India has got itself ready for starting the mission, it's not the only country eyeing to achieve the endeavour. Owing to the value of the nuclear fuel and to the fact that the first country to acquire it will have full control over it, other nations are also developing systems and technologies to explore the south side of the moon.
Speaking on this, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, a top official from ISRO said “The countries which have the capacity to bring that source from the moon to Earth will dictate the process. I don’t want to be just a part of them, I want to lead them.’’
Other countries hustling towards exploring the uncharted territories of space are the US, China, Japan and Russia who are trying to rival private enterprises working on the similar mission. Moreover, China had released a rover and lander to the moon in 2013 and its future plans include covering the southern part of the moon, similar to India.
India's aspiration goes beyond acquiring nuclear fuel from the moon and extend to setting up a space station and settling human there. As far as the budget is concerned, India is known to execute every plan at an affordable price. For the coming mission, the sum that will be needed is estimated at around $125 million which is way too less than NASA's proposed budget of $19 billion for releasing a lunar orbiter by 2020.