Chandrayaan 2 is an Indian lunar mission that will go where no country has ever gone before — the Moon's south polar region. Aim is to improve our understanding of the Moon — discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole.
Why are we going to the Moon?
The Moon is the closest cosmic body at which space discovery can be attempted and documented. It is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan 2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists. It will have economic and energy benefits as well. It will foster development of technologies.
What are the scientific objectives of Chandrayaan 2? Why explore the Lunar South Pole?
1. Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon.
2. Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.
3. The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.
What are Vikram and Pragyan?
Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft land the lander -Vikram and rover- Pragyan in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south.
What makes Chandrayaan 2 special?
It is the
1. 1st space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon's south polar region
2. 1st Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology
3. 1st Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology
4. 4th country ever to soft land on the lunar surface.
What is soft landing?
A soft landing is any type of aircraft, rocket or spacecraft-lander landing that does not result in damage to/the destruction of the vehicle or anything on board.
What is the Launcher and the Spacecraft?
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III)
The GSLV Mk-III carried Chandrayaan 2 to its designated orbit. This three-stage vehicle is India's most powerful launcher to date, and is capable of launching 4-ton class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
At the time of launch, the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter will be capable of communicating with Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu as well as the Vikram Lander. The mission life of the Orbiter is one year and it will be placed in a 100X100 km lunar polar orbit.
What does Vikram do?
The Lander of Chandrayaan 2 is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover. The Lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface.
What is Pragyan?
Chandrayaan 2's Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit. It leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander.
The rover's mass is about 27 kg. The rover will move on 6 wheels traversing 500 meters on the lunar surface at the rate of 1 cm per second, performing on-site chemical analysis and sending the data to the lander, which will relay it to the Earth station.
Chandrayaan-1 vs Chandrayaan-2
Chandrayaan – 1
Chandrayaan – 2
Chandrayaan-1 was launched by India's Polar Satellite launch Vehicle - PSLV-C11 – in 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
Chandrayaan-2 was launched by the GSLV Mk-III July, 2019.
There were 11 scientific instruments on board the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Five of them were Indian while the others were from European Space Agency (ESA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Chandrayaan-2's orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and to study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon. The lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments. The rover carries two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface. A passive experiment from Nasa is also carried on board Chandrayaan-2.
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft made more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon. Chandrayaan-1 was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.
Chandrayaan-2's orbiter will continue its mission for around a year.
Achievements and goals
Chandrayaan-1 conclusively discovered traces of water on the Moon. This was a path-breaking discovery. Chandrayaan-1 also discovered water ice in the north polar region of the Moon. It also detected magnesium, aluminium and silicon on the lunar surface. Global imaging of the Moon is another achievement of Chandrayaan-1 mission.
Chandrayaan-2 aims to widen the scientific objectives of Chandrayaan-1 by way of soft landing on the Moon and deploying a rover to study the lunar surface.
The lunar South Pole is interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.