Sriharikota। Setting in place India’s bid to return to the moon, the Indian space agency’s heavy lift rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), carrying the 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, blasted off from the Sriharikota spaceport today at 2:43 PM
At exactly 2.43 p.m., the Rs 375 crore GSLV-Mk III rocket began its ascent into space from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
After 16 minutes into flight GSLV Mk-III successfully injects Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft into Earth Orbit.
From there it will be a long journey for Chandrayaan-2 as the distance between the earth and the moon is about 384,400 km.
The Indian space agency will raise the spacecraft’s orbit by a series of manoeuvres to put it on Lunar Transfer Trajectory.
Chandrayan-2 may land on Moon on September 7
According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on the day of landing, estimated on September 7, the lander Vikram will separate from the Orbiter and then perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising rough braking and fine braking.
The separation will come five days after the orbiter enters the lunar orbit.
Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones.
The Vikram is expected to soft-land from a height of 100 km from the Moon’s surface near its South Pole and carry out three scientific experiments.
Subsequently, the six-wheeled rover Pragyan will roll out and carry out two experiments on lunar surface for a period of one lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days.
The Orbiter with eight scientific experiments will continue its mission for a duration of one year. It will be orbiting in 100×100 km lunar orbit.
The mission also has one passive experiment from the US space agency NASA.
The Indian space agency said the mission will also try to unravel the origins of the Moon.
Both the lander as well as the rover will have the Indian national flag painted on them, while the Ashoka Chakra will be imprinted on the rover’s wheels.
The success of Chandrayaan-2 mission will make India the fourth country in the world to land a vehicle and travel on the Moon surface after the US, Russia and China.
A total number of 38 soft landing attempts have been made, so far. The success rate is 52 per cent.
India launched its first Moon mission Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008, using its light rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Indigenous advanced engineering marvel will aid Chandrayaan-2
Some of India’s most advanced engineering marvels will aid Chandrayaan-2 in achieving its Moon mission.
Its integrated module, which comprises technology and software developed across the country, includes ISRO’s most powerful launch vehicle to date and a wholly-indigenous rover.
Some of the advancements on the spacecraft include a lander capable of ‘soft landing’ on the lunar surface, an algorithm wholly-developed by India’s scientific community and a rover capable of conducting in-situ payload experiments.
The lander of Chandrayaan-2 is named ‘Vikram’ after 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 Bengaluru, as well as with the orbiter and the rover. The lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2’s rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named ‘Pragyan’, which translates to ‘wisdom’. It can travel up to 500 metre and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the lander.
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 100×100 km lunar polar orbit.
India’s most powerful launcher GSLV Mark-III
The rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), carrying Chandrayaan-2, is India’s most powerful launcher to date.
It is capable of launching four-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
On entering the Moon’s sphere of influence, on-board thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for lunar capture.
The orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the Moon will be circularised to 100×100 km orbit through a series of orbital manoeuvres.
On the day of landing, the lander will separate from the orbiter and then perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising rough braking and fine braking. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones.
After the lander Vikram finally lands near the South Pole, the rover will roll out and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day. The orbiter will continue its mission for one year.
Chandrayan-2 will explore Moon’s South Polar region
Chandrayaan-2, India’s most ambitious second lunar mission, will shed light on a completely unexplored section of the Moon, its South Polar region.
Leveraging nearly a decade of scientific research and engineering development, the mission is aimed at helping in better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface.
It will explore the topography of the Moon and its composition and will search for water besides conducting in-situ studies.
The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area there, which remains in shadow, and is much larger than the North Pole, according to ISRO.
There is a possibility of the presence of water in the permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early solar system, it said.
What makes Chandrayaan-2 special is that it is the first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s South Polar region. It is also the first Indian expedition to attempt soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology.
Other specialities of the mission are that it will be the first to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology and India will be only the fourth country ever to carry out a soft landing on the lunar surface.