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UK Space Agency announces funding for project with Isro

The UK Space Agency has announced $384,030 to develop software for Isro's Chandrayaan-2 and Shukrayaan missions

UK Space Agency announces funding for project with Isro
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The UK Space Agency has announced funding to the tune of £7.4 million ($9.8 million) for major global missions to the moon, Mars and Venus, including a collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

The London-based Royal Holloway University will develop analysis software for Isro to detect ice beneath the surface of the lunar south pole using data from the Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter, a UK Space Agency statement said.

Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian mission to study the moon’s south pole, primarily focusing on the surface, topography, and mineral composition. The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft had included an orbiter, lander, and a rover to explore the lunar terrain in detail, seeking evidence of water ice with instruments, including those developed by Royal Holloway University for Isro.

Though Chandrayaan-2’s lander had crashed onto the moon’s surface when attempting to land in September 2019 due to a technical glitch, the orbiter is still functional.

Last August, Chandrayaan-3 became the first spacecraft to successfully land on the lunar south pole.

The UK Space Agency has announced $384,030 to develop software for the Chandrayaan-2 and Shukrayaan missions.

Shukrayaan, India’s ambitious mission to Venus, is set to launch later this year, marking India’s first venture to study Venus for over four years.

The mission aims to explore Venus’s surface and subsurface, as well as its atmospheric chemistry and interaction with solar winds.

A key instrument aboard Shukrayaan will be an improved version of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) used in the Chandrayaan-2 mission, offering up to four times the resolution of NASA’s Magellan orbiter.

Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said, “These projects present an opportunity for UK science to make crucial contributions to ground-breaking global missions that will deepen our understanding of the moon and our neighboring planets.

Out of the UK Space Agency’s seven projects, £1.5 million will be allotted for a program led by the University of Leicester and iSpace, Japan, to lead the development of the Raman analytical spectroscopy instrument based on the Raman laser spectrometer for commercial small lunar landers and rovers that will explore the lunar surface for space resource utilization.

Other projects to receive a share of the funding include the Open University and universities of Sussex, Aberdeen, and Cambridge teaming up with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 

Andrew Griffith, MP and minister for Space, UK, said, “Our more than £7 million investment is pushing the boundaries of space discovery and putting the UK at the heart of some of the most important global space missions.

The space agency also announced over £2 million in funds for I-MIM, a project between the Open University and CSA, Canada, to develop high-performance detectors for the Mars multispectral and stereo imager for the International Mars Ice Mapper mission to map accessible water ice deposits on the Martian surface.  

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