The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched Chandrayaan 2 on 22nd July 2019, India’s second mission to the moon. India will be the 4th country after USA, Russia & China to land a rover on the moon. Let’s read about this in detail.
Chandrayaan-2 Space Mission
Chandrayaan 2 is India’s second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan 1 which is developed by ISRO. It is an indigenous mission of ISRO which consists of an orbiter, lander and a rover.
The objective of Chandrayaan 2
- Study the topography of the moon, explore elements & minerals such as Helium, Iron etc.
- Check for traces of water on the surface
- Investigate the layers of the moon’s atmosphere
Chandrayaan 2: Launcher & Space Craft Details:
GSLV MK III
Satish Dhawan Space Station, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh
South Side of Moon between craters - Manzinus C and Simpelius N
Chandrayaan 2 Mission Details:
The Lander housing the Rover will be separated from the Orbiter after reaching the distance of 100 km of moon’s orbit.
The Lander will softly land on the lunar surface at a designated location after a controlled descent and deploy a Rover.
The Chandrayaan 2 consists of 3 basic components:
- Orbiter: It will orbit the moon from the lunar surface at a distance of 100 km. Payloads on the orbiter are Soft X-ray Spectrometer Large Area, Synthetic Aperture Radar L and S-Band, IR Spectrometer Imaging, Neutral Mass Spectrometer and Terrain Mapping Camera-2. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured the orbiter structure.
- Lander: The Scientist has been named ‘Vikram’ after the Scientist Vikram Sarabhai, also known as Father of Indian Space Programme. Before attempting to land on the surface, the lander will detach from the orbiter & descend into a lunar orbit. It's going to make a soft landing and deploy the rover. For about 15 days it will also carry out some scientific activities. The payloads on the lander are: seismometer, thermal probe, radio occultation and the Langmuir probe.
- Rover: The Rover is named ‘Pragyan’ which means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit. The solar-powered rover moves on six wheels and performs on-site chemical analyzes. It will then transmit the data to the orbiter which will send this data back to the earth station. The payloads of the rover include Laser Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscopy (APIXS).
Why is Chandrayaan 2 Special?
Despite being India’s first attempt to land a rover on the moon, Chandrayaan 2 is special because unlike USA’s Apollo and Russia’s Luna Mission, ISRO will land the rover near the south pole of the moon near craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N.
According to ISRO, the south pole of the moon is an interesting surface area that remains in shadow as compared to the north pole. There is a possibility of water being present in permanently shaded areas around it, adding craters in the south pole region, there might be cold traps and contain early solar system fossil records.
Timeline of Chandrayaan 2:
ISRO has planned the timeline of Chandrayaan 2 which is shown below:
July 22 2019
Moon Orbiter Insertion
August 20 2019
Moon Lander Landing Date
September 7 2019
ISRO wanted to test the lunar soil-like substance on the rover, Pragyaan so that the Moon experiments would go without a hitch. The surface of the moon is covered with craters, rocks and dust and distinct texture of its soil.
An IANS report clarified that it was an expensive affair to import lunar soil-like substance from the USA. Then ISRO was searching for a local alternative because it needed about 60-70 tons of soil.
Many geologists informed ISRO that there were "anorthosite" rocks close Salem in Tamil Nadu that would be comparable to moon soil or regolith characteristics. The ISRO finalized taking the "anorthosite" rocks for moon soil from the villages of Sithampoondi and Kunnamalai in Tamil Nadu.
Challenges involved in Moon Landing:
Deep space communication; trans-lunar injection, orbiting around the moon, smooth landing on the moon surface, and facing extreme temperatures and vacuum are the challenges engaged in the moon landing.
About GSLV MK III:
The ISRO used GSLV Mk-III for Chandrayaan 2 which is as the Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3) is a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle.
It was designed in order to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit, it is also identified as the launch vehicle for crewed missions under the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
About Chandrayaan 1:
The ISRO launched India's first Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe in October 2008 and operated until August 2009. The Chandrayaan-1 had verified the hypothesis of the magma ocean, which indicated that the moon was once totally frozen. Chandrayaan-1 had identified titanium and verified the existence of calcium in its ten-month orbit around the moon. Chandrayaan-1 collected on the lunar surface the most precise measurements of magnesium, aluminium and iron.
Rovers on the Moon:
10 Nov 1970
Lunar Roving Vehicle
31 July 1971
14 December 2013
Below is a list of the main researchers and technicians involved in Chandrayaan-2 project construction and launch:
- Ritu Karidhal - Mission Director, Chandrayaan-2
- Muthaya Vanitha - Project Director, Chandrayaan-2
- Chandrakanta Kumar - Deputy Project Director, Chandrayaan-2
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