Countdown on for Chandrayaan-2

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on July 21, 2019

Chandrayaan-2 will encircle the earth for 23 days before being propelled to an orbit around the moon PTI   -  PTI

ISRO is attempting to go to the Moon’s never-explored south polar region

With renewed confidence, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the rescheduled Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission at 2.43 pm on Monday from the Satish Dhawan space port in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The 20-hour countdown for India’s second lunar mission is on, with the booster rocket GSLV MkIII having completed its full rehearsal.

The ₹978-crore mission, initially set for a July 15 launch, was aborted 54 minutes before take-off due to a technical snag. ISRO scientists detected the snag in the cryo fuel tanks, fixed it and announced July 22 as the next launch date.

They are closely monitoring the GSLV rocket, which will have a lift-off mass of 640 tonnes and carry Chandrayaan-2 to an elliptical orbit around the Earth. It will circle the Earth for 23 days and thereafter, through a series of manoeuvres, will be propelled to an orbit around the Moon.

The Orbiter-Lander combine (Vikram-Pragyan) will then be put through their exercises before the descent and detachment and a final touchdown of the Lander is expected around September 7 on the South Pole of the Moon.

India aims to emerge the fourth nation after the US, Russia and China to successfully place a human-made object on the lunar surface. Its first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, was a decade ago and made the startling discovery of water on our satellite.

Hunt for water

Evidence of water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1 requires further studies on the extent of their distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon, ISRO says.

The lunar mission is attempting to go where no country has gone before — the Moon’s south polar region. The objective is to improve mankind’s understanding of the Moon — discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole.

The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because the area that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanent shadow 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.

Chandrayaan-2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery. The Moon provides the best linkage to earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner solar system environment. The Moon is the closest cosmic body in which space discovery can be attempted and documented.

It is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions, states ISRO.

Published on July 21, 2019

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