Context: With the successful launch of India’s Moon mission Chandrayaan-2, all eyes are now on September 7 when the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft will make a soft landing on the surface of the moon.
The 640-tonne GSLV Mk-III rocket successfully injected the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 composite module into the Earth’s orbit. According to the revised flight sequence, Chandrayaan-2 would spend 23 days in the Earth’s orbit.
- In September 2008, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was approved by the government for a cost of Rs 425 crore.
- It is India’s second mission to the moon.
- It aims to explore the Moon’s south polar region.
- The mission is an important step in India’s plans for planetary exploration, a program known as Planetary Science and Exploration (PLANEX).
- There are three components of the mission, an orbiter, a lander and a rover.
- The mission payloads include — Terrain Mapping Camera which will generate a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the entire moon, Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer which will test the elemental composition of the Moon’s surface Solar X-Ray Monitor which will provide solar X-ray spectrum inputs for CLASS.
- The orbiter will be deployed at an altitude of 100 kilometers above the surface of the Moon. The lander will then separate from the orbiter, and execute a soft landing on the surface of the Moon, unlike the previous mission which crash landed near the lunar south pole.
- The lander, rover and orbiter will perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.
- The rover is named Pragyan.
- The mission’s lander is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme.
Objectives of the mission:
The primary objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface. Scientific goals include studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.
Developed by ISRO, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III is a three-stage vehicle.
Primarily designed to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit.
It has a mass of 640 tonnes that can accommodate up to 8,000 kg payload to LEO and 4000 kg payload to GTO.
GSLV Mk-III vehicle is powered by two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C25), that has been designed for carrying the four-tonne class satellites.
The C25 is powered by CE-20, India’s largest cryogenic engine, designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.
Why the south polar region of the moon?
According to ISRO, the lunar south pole is an interesting surface area, which remains in shadow as compared to the north pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it, the agency said, adding craters in the south pole region have cold traps and contain fossil records of the early solar system.
The challenges along the way:
Challenges involved in the moon landing are identifying trajectory accurately; taking up deep space communication; trans-lunar injection, orbiting around the moon, taking up soft landing on the moon surface, and facing extreme temperatures and vacuum.
India: Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on Moon:
India will become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon. So far, all the landings have been in the areas close to the Moon’s equator.
This is mainly because, this area receives more sunlight, which is required by solar powered instruments.
But Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, i.e., near the South Pole of the Moon. It can contain clues to the fossil records of early Solar System.
The unexplored territory gives an opportunity for the Mission to discover something new. The South Pole of the Moon holds possibility of presence of water. In addition, this area is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of history of the Moon.