India scripted history on Monday when its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched into space at 2.43 pm from Sriharikota. About 16.20 minutes after the lift-off, the GSLV rocket injected Chandrayaan-2 into 170 km x 39059 kms Earth orbit. Chandrayaan-2 is a fully indigenous mission. It will make India the fourth country to soft land on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States, and China. Nearly 5,000 people gathered to witness the launch of Chandrayaan-2 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. PM Narendra Modi and several leaders congratulated the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on this historic success.
Scientists led by ISRO chief K Sivan broke into applause after every key stage of the rocket’s flight which progressed precisely as programmed. ISRO chief Sivan announced the success of the mission. He said, “It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the moon. We bounced back in flying colours after the earlier technical snag.”
Just a week earlier on July 15, the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 lift-off was aborted due to a technical snag. The Rs 978-crore Moon mission Chandrayaan-2, which will go the Moon’s south-polar region, aims to explore its surface for the signs of water and possibly new origins of energy. 20-hour countdown for the launch began at 6.43 pm on Sunday. India’s second Moon mission came 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1.
Aim of the mission
It is worth mentioning that Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of topsoil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.
The GSLV Mk-III (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark) 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). The GSLV Mk-III is also called ISRO’s Bahubali.
Chandrayaan 2’s Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m (half-a-km) and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander.
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.
First mission to South Pole
Chandrayaan-2 is the first mission to the lunar South Pole. There also is a likelihood of water being present in the areas that permanently in shadow around the lunar South Pole. Moreover, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and comprise a fossil record of the early solar system. According to ISRO, the Chandrayaan-2 mission will help to expand the boundaries of human knowledge.
On the day of landing, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and then perform a series of complex maneuvers comprising of rough braking and fine braking. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones.
A legacy of Chandrayaan 1
Oct 22, 2008: Chandrayaan 1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota
Nov 8, 2008: Chandrayaan 1 enters a Lunar Transfer Trajectory
November 14, 2008: The Moon Impact Probe ejects from Chandrayaan 1 and crashes near the lunar South Pole – confirms the presence of water molecules on Moon’s surface
August 28, 2009: End of Chandrayaan 1 programme
Main attractions of Chandrayaan-2
- Lander capable of ‘Soft Landing’ on the lunar surface. A total number of 38 soft landing attempts on the moon have been made so far. The success rate is 52 per cent.
- Algorithm wholly developed by India’s scientific community.
- Rover capable of conducting in-situ payload experiments.
- Weight of Chandrayaan-2 is 3,850-kg.
- Its cost is Rs 978-crore.
- The mission will undergo a series of manoeuvres by scientists to carry out different phases of the mission over the next 48 days.
- Chandrayaan 2 will make India the fourth country to soft land on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States, and China.