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, one of them is Chandrayaan-2. The mission was launched on July 22, 2019. ISRO had to overcome numerous hurdles for Chandrayaan-2 since its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008. Chandrayaan-2, an indigenous program, was not planned to be an independent project of the ISRO. However, ISRO’s collaborating partners failed to accomplish their deliverable, as promised. Thus, it had to complete this project alone, with courage and faith.
Chandrayaan-2 is the second Lunar mission of the ISRO. It has advanced goals and technology than Chandrayaan-1. It will focus on studying 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. These will help to expand the boundaries of human knowledge related to the Moon. This 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, for this mission. This launcher 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 August 20, 2019. This took 1738 seconds of manoeuvre duration starting at 0902 hrs IST to enter into the orbit. The orbiter and lander are composed as a single body while launching the spacecraft. These two payloads will be separated from each other on 2nd September, 2019 and will begin their own journeys towards Moon. Orbiter will continue to orbit at an altitude of 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 September 7, 2019, the lander Vikram will land on the Moon surface near the south pole, using a technology called soft landing. This prevents any damage to the satellite body. Success rate of soft landing is 37%. But, 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. 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 comparatively 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. This gives an approximately flattened surface at the curvature of the moon that is crucial for safe landing of the Vikram lander. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 was delayed due to detection of technical difficulties just an hour before its scheduled launch, July 15, 2019. ISRO managed to keep the target landing date on the moon to be constant i.e on September 7, 2019. The 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. This has not been promised by the ISRO. The lander and rover will be operational for one lunar day i.e. 14 earth days. It 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. This will reduce 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 August 20, 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. It 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