India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission To Be Launched

India’s second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2 is planned for launch in July this year. It will have 13 payloads developed by various research institutes across the country to carry out a range of scientific experiments and collect data, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The spacecraft with a mass of 3.8 tonnes has three modules–Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). NASA’s passive experimental module is aimed at measuring the distance between the Earth and its’only natural satellite. All the modules are getting ready for launch of Chandrayaan-2 during the July 9-16 window, with an expected Moon landing on September 6, according to the space agency. The orbiter will orbit 100 km from the lunar surface, while lander (Vikram) will do the soft landing near the south pole of Moon, and Rover (Pragyan) will conduct in-situ experiments.

Chandrayaan-1, which was a huge success owing to its discovery of water on the moon’s surface, had carried a total of five foreign payloads, of which three were from Europe and two from the United States. Chandrayaan-2, is a technological upgrade and would be one of the most advanced missions to the Moon.

ISRO chairman Dr. K Sivan said that once the lander,a five-legged vehicle, Vikram will descend on the moon on or around September 6; and the robotic rover, Pragyan, that will probe the lunar terrain around it.Pragyan will roll out on the lunar surface for 300-400 metre. Pragyan is expected to spend 14 Earth days on the Moon and carry out different scientific experiments. The rover will analyze the content of the lunar surface and send data and images back to the Earth through the orbiter within 15 minutes.The 3,800-kg spacecraft includes an orbiter which will circle the moon from a distance of 100 kms.

The ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan has said that Chandrayaan-2 is the most complex mission to be undertaken by the ISRO to date, primarily on account of the soft touchdown required at the chosen landing site- near the lunar south-pole.The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on Chandrayaan-1, by comparison, had not been designed for a soft landing.ISRO had said in January, “We are going to land at a place where nobody else has gone-the Moon’s South Pole… it is unexplored region.”Chandrayaan-2 mission is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago.Chandrayaan-1 had 11 payloads- five from India, three from Europe, 2 from USA and 1 from Bulgaria, and the mission had the credit of discoveringwater on the lunar surface. If India successfully lands Chandrayaan-2 on the lunar surface, it will become the fourth country to do so. India was eyeing to become to fourth nation in the world after Russia, US and China to land a spacecraft on the Moon and it almost lost to Israel, but Israel’s Beresheet failed to land on the Moon on April 12.However, it won’t be easy;Beresheet tried to land on a plain surface that came after solidification of lava called the Sea of Serenity. It’s a flattened surface with more exposure to Sun, but Chandrayaan-2 will land on South Pole and no country except for China has tried landing there.

It may be recalled that this January, China landed its Chang’e 4 spacecraft on the far-side known as the ‘dark side’. It’s so called as it faces away from the earth and is comparatively unknown.

The success of the Chandrayaan-2 would be another feather on the cap of ISRO. India’s space organization has already carved a niche for itself as one of the leading players in the area of space launch. The Chandrayaa-2 mission is certain to add to its achievements.

Script: Yogesh Sood, Journalist