The world is waiting for Chandrayaan-2 to land and give its feedback about the moon, which is anticipated to provide a lot of data for further research and development.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has conducted around 295 missions and one of them is Chandrayaan-2. The mission was launched on July 22, 2019, after overcoming numerous hurdles since this mission was launched in 2008. Chandrayaan-2, an indigenous program, was not planned to be an independent project of the ISRO. However, ISRO had to complete this project alone, with courage and faith, since its collaborating partners failed to accomplish their deliverable, as promised.
Chandrayaan-2 is the second Lunar mission of the ISRO and it has advanced goals and technology than Chandrayaan-1, i.e. first Lunar mission to study geology, seismology and exosphere of the moon, while searching for clues to the life on the moon. There are number of lunar missions which have been carried out earlier by different space agencies and a few are about to be launched soon.
Do you know how Chandrayaan-2 is unique and what impression it will have on the world of space technology?
Chandrayaan-2 consists of autonomous payloads, such as lander, orbiter and rover to expand the boundaries of human knowledge related to the moon - the nearest cosmetic body to the earth, which can eventually be employed as a space station to reach farther out into space. ISRO has used India’s most powerful launcher, GSLV Mk-III, which is completely designed and built within the country. Chandrayaan-2 is incomparable as it has been designed to land on the south pole of the Moon, for the very first time, in the history of lunar missions so far.
ISRO has announced successful Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of Chandrayaan-2 on 20th August, 2019 with 1738 seconds of manoeuvre duration starting at 0902 hrs IST. The orbiter and lander are composed as a single body while launching the spacecraft, which will be separated from each other on 2nd September, 2019 and will begin their own journeys towards Moon. Orbiter will continue to orbit at the altitude of the 100 km above the moon’s surface for a year or more than that. Lander will reduce it’s altitude while rotating to adjust thrusters at the time of landing, and analyse the safest landing location on the surface of the moon. On 7th September 2019, the lander Vikram will land on the Moon surface near the south pole, using a technology called soft landing that prevents any damage to the satellite body. Though success rate of soft landing is 37%, ISRO is confident about victorious landing due to vigorous tests, and calibrations that have been carried out since the inception of this idea.
Moon landing is not so easy as it produces dust while landing due to thrusters. By switching off four corner thrusters and only operating central thruster engine, the dust can be reduced. Also, instead of covering the lander with dust, it will be spread out horizontally. Landing on the moon near its equator is easy as it remains almost constant even though the moon’s orbit varies, but it is most difficult to achieve the target of landing on poles as it is critical to match the angles, distance and speed of the satellite body. The angle while landing near pole of the moon must be less than 12 degrees, which gives an approximately flattened surface at the curvature of the moon that is crucial for safe landing of the Vikram lander. Though ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 was delayed due to detection of technical difficulties just an hour before its scheduled launch on 15th July 2019, ISRO managed to keep the target landing date on the moon to be constant i.e on 7th September, 2019. Thus date was decided according to the optimal calculations favourable for landing, by reducing the lander’s speed from 1.6 km/sec to zero, in a controlled way.
Orbiter will be functional for a year and more than that if it remains healthy, but this has not been promised by the ISRO. The lander and rover will be operational for one lunar day i.e. 14 earth days and will communicate to the earth via orbiter as it is not fully autonomous. After lunar day the batteries of both lander and rover will be drained out. However, if they are not damaged and once they come into the sunlight, they can be recharged and reused, thus reducing the future investments for further lunar missions.
Many subsystems such as various sensors like altitude sensor, image analysis, and mission control are being used for the first time by the ISRO. New strategies are being planned. With the progress of this mission, as planned, ISRO is confident, yet tensed, about the successful outcomes of their experiments. This was revealed by the ISRO during a press conference held on 20th August, 2019 at Bengaluru to clarify doubts of the society regarding Chandrayaan-2. The world is waiting for Chandrayaan-2 to land and give its feedback about the moon, which is anticipated to provide a lot of data for further research and development.
Chandrayaan-2 is ready to reveal secrets of the moon for further progress of mankind. Let’s praise and congratulate the ISRO for their achievements and wish them good luck for their upcoming missions!
Editor: Dr. Prajakta Dandekar-Jain