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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

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
42 mins ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.

Court rules Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day

An election judge drops a ballot in a ballot box at a drive through drop-off for absentee ballots in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

An appeals court on Thursday ruled that Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Why it matters: The ruling, which comes just five days before the election, blocks the state's plan to count absentee ballots arriving late so long as they're postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered within a week of the election. Now those ballots must be set aside and marked late.

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