ISRO's Chandrayaan -2 will explore the Moon's South Polar Region, making India the fourth nation in the world to have achieved this feat.
How Chandrayaan -2 will stand out?
India’s much-celebrated lunar mission Chandrayaan is all set to take off on its second journey. Chandrayaan-1, which was successfully launched on October 22, 2008, discovered the presence of hydroxyl and water molecules on the lunar surface.
Now, with the second installment 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. For this, the spacecraft equipped an orbiter, a lander (Vikram) and a rover (Prgayan). 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.
If successful, India will become the fourth country – after the US, Russia and China -- to achieve this feat and be the first country to do a soft-landing on the Moon's South Polar Region.
Role of Orbiter, Vikram and Pragyan
An orbiter will work as a probe and will orbit the moon. In Chandrayaan -2, the orbiter weighs 2,379 kg and its main job is to coordinate between Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu, Bengaluru as well as the lander Vikram.
Vikram, the lander of Chandrayaan–2, has been named after the doyen of India's space programme, Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai. It weighs 1,471 kg and its main job is to execute the ‘soft landing’ on the lunar surface. It has a life of one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.
Pragyan, the rover, is the lightest component of the three, weighing just 27 kg. It is a vehicle which will move across the lunar surface at the "breakneck" speed of 1 cm per second. While moving it will analyse the samples from the surface and can even take pictures. It can only communicate with the lander.
What is ‘soft landing’?
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.
The objective of the lunar 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.”
(Picture credit: ISRO)
Chandrayaan -2 will be launched by ISRO’s three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV) on July 15, at 02.51 hours. It will land on the Moon on September 06, if everything goes well.