On July 22nd, 2019, India’s second lunar exploration mission Chandrayaan 2 has launched successfully to the moon from Satish Dhawan Space Center by Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) India’s most powerful launcher to date, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Launch of Chandrayaan-2 was originally scheduled for 15th of July 2019 but due to some technical snag, this launch was shifted to 22nd of July 2019.
This lunar mission is the successor of the India’s first lunar mission Chandrayaan 1, launched in 2008 by the ISRO. As compared to Chandrayaan 1, Chandrayaan 2 is obviously more advanced and it will go where no country has ever gone before — the Moon’s south polar region.
Chandrayaan 1 discovered the evidence of water on moon but presence of water requires further studies this is why lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.
With an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a small rover called Pragyan, Chandrayaan 2 will explore the lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.
The orbiter will orbit the Moon to study its atmosphere and map the lunar surface at an altitude of 100 km and mission life of the orbiter is one year, lander Vikram named after the Father of the Indian Space Program, Dr Vikram A Sarabhai is designed to function for one lunar day – equivalent to about 14 Earth days and also to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface. Vikram will detach from the orbiter and will descend to a lunar orbit after that it will perform a comprehensive check of all its on-board systems before attempting a soft landing and then will release the rover.
Rover-Pragyan is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle and it can only communicate with lander, Pragyan will perform the chemical analysis of the lunar surface, rover will move on 6 wheels traversing 500 meters on the lunar surface at the rate of 1 cm per second.
If all goes well this seven week lunar mission will be the first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s south polar region and also it will make India the fourth country ever to soft land on the lunar surface.