10 Essential Facts About The Chandrayaan Programme
Here's a round up of the essential background info you need on Chandrayaan 2
We’ve all heard of Chandrayaan 2, and we now know that the Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission will be making contact and landing on the moon tonight. The nation is holding its breath as we move closer towards the most crucial part of the mission.
That being said, there’s a bit of background to Chandrayaan 2 that tends to be missed. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Chandrayaan programme is a series of outer space missions conducted by India’s space agency - the Indian Space Research Organisation, also called ISRO. ISRO, headquartered in Bangalore, was established to “harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration”.
- Chandrayaan-2 is India’s third science mission into deep space. Its first mission was Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in October 2008, and India sent a spacecraft to Mars in November 2013.
- Chandrayaan-1, which was successfully launched on October 22, 2008, discovered the presence of hydroxyl and water molecules on the lunar surface.
- With the second instalment of the mission, India will reach a part of the Moon where no other country has ever gone before — the Moon's South Polar Region. The ISRO is aiming to attempt a ‘soft’ landing of lander and rover in this mission. The spacecraft will travel a distance of 3.84 lakh km before entering the moon’s orbit.
- The chairman of ISRO, K Sivan has addressed the last 15 minutes of the soft landing as a ‘Terrifying’ moment, because ISRO has never done it before. Soft landing refers to placing the lander and rover on the surface (in this case the Moon) without causing any damage. In Chandrayaan -1, the space craft did not attempt soft landing but it crash-landed the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on the lunar surface. This probe collided with the lunar surface, and helped the orbiter to analyse the presence of water ice, and other materials. The MIP was instrumental in confirming the presence of water during the mission.
- Chandrayaan-2 will not just build on the discoveries of Chandrayaan-1, but also carry out some exclusive experiments for the first time. Other than analysing the South Polar Region for the presence of water, it will also carry out other detailed studies. According to the ISRO website, “Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of the topography; seismography; mineral identification and distribution; surface chemical composition; thermo-physical characteristics of the topsoil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.”
- The spacecraft with the lander and the rover is called the composite module. In other words, the composite module has three components: the orbiter or the spacecraft, the lander, and the rover called Pragyaan (knowledge). The lander has been named Vikram after the late Vikram Sarabhai, the charismatic pater familias of India’s space programme. The four-legged lander sits on top of the orbiter which detached itself from the orbiter on September 2. About four and a half hours after the soft landing, a door on the lander will open, a ramp will unfold and the rover will roll down to the lunar surface to do experiments.
- The mission will have a total of 14 instruments -- eight payloads, three landers and two rovers. The Chandrayaan-1 mission had 11 payloads -- five from India, three from Europe, two from the United States and one from Bulgaria. The mission was credited for the discovery of water on the lunar surface.
- This is the first time that any country is sending its lander to touch down on the lunar South Pole. Even the US, Russia and China have not attempted to land there. India is audaciously attempting it because the shadowed craters in the South Pole may harbour water-ice.
- What is outstanding about this complex and technologically challenging Chandrayaan-2 mission is that it is a totally, 100 per cent indigenous project. The launch vehicle GSLV-Mk III M1, the orbiter, the lander, and the rover were all built in ISRO facilities in India. This demonstrates that India today is a self-reliant, world-class power in space technology.