In the first expedition to the lunar South Pole, India’s second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 embarks on a historic journey early morning tomorrow.
It aims at soft-landing on the lunar South Pole after a journey of about fifty-four days after it lifts off onboard the rocket GSLV Mark-Three at 2.51 a.m. tomorrow. It takes off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikotta, some ninety kilometres off Chennai.
Chandrayaan-2 carries thirteen Indian payloads and a NASA instrument to probe the moon’s topography, composition and its seismic activities.
The booster GSLV Mark-Three that carries the prestigious payload to a preparatory orbit around the earth is 44 m long and weighs 640 ton. Nicknamed as the “fat boy,” also known as the “Bahubali,” it has been fully designed and developed in India, including its highly powerful cryogenic upper stage.
The total cost of the whole project is 978 crore rupees, which is much less than what other space-faring nations have spent. Chandrayaan-Two will undertake a fifty four-day journey to reach the moon, which is about 3-lakh, 84-thousand and 400 km away.
Initially, it will encircle the earth for about seventeen days before getting away from its sphere of influence. Once it detaches itself from the earth’s gravity, it will travel towards the moon to get absorbed in an orbit around it. Chandrayaan-2 is, in essence, a combination of three crucial constituents, the orbiter, the lander and the rover, all made indigenously.
The orbiter, weighing 2.38 ton, has the capacity to generate 1000 watts of solar power. It houses the lander, which in turn holds the rover. The orbiter has a mission life of a year. It will be made to gradually reach the moon’s orbit at a distance of 100 kilometres from its surface.
Later, the orbiter will eject the lander to descend softly near the lunar South Pole. The lander has been named as Vikram in honour of Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the Father of the Nation’s Space Programmes. The lander weighs 1.47 tons and generates 450 watts of power.
After the soft landing, the rover, named as Pragyan, weighing 27 kg, will cut off its umbilical cord with the lander and move around five hundred meters for making in-situ experiments. All the data generated by the lander and the rover will be relayed to the earth by the orbiter.
AIR correspondent reports that scientists of the national space agency, ISRO, have worked relentlessly for over ten long years to realize the dream of parking India’s own lander softly on the lunar surface.
It is now on its way to reaching the goal with homegrown technology. Besides being a technology demonstrator, Chandrayaan-2 aims at unveiling the secrets of the moon, that will also help humans to understand the evolution of the solar system better.
The complex scientific mission comes a little over a decade of its predecessor Chandrayaan-1 making an impact on the moon, which helped to confirm the presence of water molecules. It also coincides with the golden jubilee of man’s landing on the moon in 1969.
As the national space agency ISRO makes the giant leap to reach the moon, the scientific spirit in India is all set to get reinvigorated besides boosting the confidence of the youth of the nation. (AIR NEWS)