India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLVMkIII-M1) successfully launched the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the earth orbit. The chandrayaan-2 is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km.
A successful landing would make India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, after the space agencies of the USSR, the USA and China. If successful, Chandrayaan-2 will be the southernmost lunar landing, aiming to land at 67°S or 70°S latitude. The mission was launched on a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) with an approximate lift-off mass of 3,850 kg (8,490 lb) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island. As of June 2019, the mission has an allocated cost of Rs. 978 crore (approximately US$141 million)
The primary objectives of Chandrayaan-2 are 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. The orbiter will map the lunar surface and help to prepare 3D maps of it. The onboard radar will also map the surface while studying the water ice in the South Polar Region and thickness of the lunar regolith on the surface.
In short the mission aims to expand our knowledge and understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere.
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.
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’s maiden landing on the Moon!-With ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2, the country will land on the lunar surface for the very first time. During the premier lunar mission, Chandrayaan 1, the spacecraft was orbiting around the Moon and analyzed lunar surface. However, in this mission, Chandrayaan 2 has three components, namely, the Orbiter, the Lander ‘Vikram’ and the ‘Pragyaan’ Rover. While, the Orbiter will orbit around the Moon, the Lander will attempt a soft landing on the moon to deploy the six-wheeled artificial-intelligence powered Rover. The Rover will analyse the lunar surface and conduct in-situ experiments for exploration and further studies. These results will pave the way towards creating a paradigm shift in lunar expeditions.
First space mission to land on the Moon’s South Polar Region!-Chandrayaan 2 holds a distinguished significance as it will pin the country’s flag across global space research. This is because it is the first ever space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s South Polar Region. It is also the first Indian lunar expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home grown technology. This has made the mission even more unique as the South Polar Region of the moon’s terrain has not been explored or sampled by any other country in the past. The mighty launch vehicle GSLV Mk -III has been completely designed and made within the country, making it a fully home-grown technology, hence Chandrayaan 2 is a fully indigenous mission.
Lunar Mission led by India’s ‘Rocket Women’! -Apart from having many first-time milestones, the Chandrayaan 2 project is being spearheaded by two senior women scientists of ISRO. ISRO’s very own Ritu Karidhal and Muthayya Vanitha, popularly known as India’s ‘Rocket Women’ were leading the project for all its main components, which includes the project oversight as well as the crucial final phase of landing. Ritu Karidhal is the Mission Director, while Muthayya Vanitha is Project Director for Chandrayaan 2. With their illustrious scientific prowess and critical expertise for space engineering, these senior women space scientists have been associated with ISRO for almost two decades and have been a part of sub-system development for satellites and past launches.
India joins illustrious League of Nations to ever land on the Moon!-With Chandrayaan 2, the country has joined the illustrious league of four nations across the world to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. Previously, China, the United States and the former Soviet Union have attempted soft landing on the moon. This puts India among the global leaders for space technology and research, while the discoveries during the mission will scale new frontiers for science.
Space mission at frugal cost of engineering-Chandrayaan 2 also stands out for its frugal cost of engineering as its total cost is way lower than several other lunar missions. Specifically, the total cost of Chandrayaan 2 is Rs 978 crore or $142,651,080 ($142 million) which includes the mission cost of Rs 603 crore and the cost of its launch which is Rs 375 crore. Interestingly, this cost was estimated to be lower than many of the high-grossing Hollywood movies such as Avengers Endgame, Titanic, Avatar, Spider Man 3. In this way, ISRO has carved a niche for itself across the globe, in the sphere of astronomy and space research for running cost-effective as well as less expensive projects.
Even Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the moon, which also carried payloads developed by other countries, experienced small, technical glitches before finally launching on 22 October 2008. The mission was a success—data from Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper experiment showed evidence of water in the moon’s exosphere, and on its surface and sub-surface. The mission also carried out detailed mineral and chemical composition studies of the lunar surface. The Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013-14 was yet another feather in the cap of the Indian space programme. The successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 has created new hopes for India’s dream of a manned mission to both space and moon in the near future.