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A thick trail of smoke is seen in the sky soon after the launch of Chandrayaan-1, India's maiden lunar mission at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. Photo: Aijaz Rahi / AP

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is conducting a series of tests to prepare for India's second trip to the moon since 2008, Nature reports. The organization is only operating on a $93 million budget, which Nature notes is relatively low for these kinds of missions.

The motivation: Preparing for the possibility of human colonization on the Moon. By exploring the planet, India's researchers can better understand the Moon's atmosphere and suitable living conditions for humans. The country's first mission there discovered the presence of water, but the ISRO's next mission hopes to analyze floating lunar dust — particles that penetrate everything from astronauts' suits to space machinery, potentially causing significant damage.

The spacecraft for the Chandrayaan-2 mission will include a rover, a lander that will attempt to touch down near the Moon's south pole, and an orbiter that will travel around the Moon.

What's different this time: The Chandrayaan-2 mission will test whether India's space technology is capable of pulling off a controlled landing (the original mission ended after 10 months when India's Space Organization lost contact with the orbiter). ISRO developed new systems to assist with the soft landing this time around, per Nature.

ISRO's tests in preparation for its second mission mimic the Moon's atmosphere and environment: rovers navigate over rocky surfaces in Bangalore. One of the spacecraft's final tests will begin in three to four weeks.

Go deeper

In photos: Long lines and fuel shortages amid Colonial Pipeline shutdown

A sign warns consumers on the avaliability of gasoline at a RaceTrac gas station in Smyrna, Georgia, on May 11. The average national price of gasoline has risen to $2.985 a gallon, Bloomberg notes. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Reports of fuel shortages across the U.S. emerged on Tuesday as the national average for gasoline prices soared to its highest level since 2014 amid a key fuel pipeline shut down, per Bloomberg.

What's happening: Operator Colonial Pipeline aims to have service restored by the week's end following last Friday's ransomware attack that shut down some 5,500 miles of pipeline from Texas to New Jersey. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency after panic-buying created a fuel shortage.

Reports: More than 100 Republicans threaten to form 3rd party over Trump

Former President Trump addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in February. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 100 Republicans will sign a letter Thursday threatening to create a third party if the GOP doesn't "break" with former President Trump, Reuters first reported.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, Trump's grip on the GOP has gotten stronger since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The Republican Party's "allegiance to Trump" as he continues to make false claims about his 2020 election loss has "dismayed" the group, according to Reuters.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

In photos: Dozens dead as Israel and Hamas intensify aerial bombardments

People gather at the site of a collapsed building in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on May 11. Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images

At least 35 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed as fighting between Israel's military and Hamas entered a third day, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 come after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

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