India’s most ambitious Lunar Project, Chandrayaan-2, was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on July 15 at 2.51 am. Chandrayaan-2 will reach its designated orbit, on-board a Heavy-lift Rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III (GSLV MKIII) which is one of the most powerful launchers created by ISRO. The launcher, nicknamed “Bahubali” is a three-stage vehicle, capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The spacecraft consists of three components: an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

The orbiter will move around the moon for a year while relaying messages between the lander, Vikram and Earth. Vikram, the lander is named after the Father of Indian Space Programme, Dr Vikram Sarabhai. Vikram will carry out a soft landing on the South Polar Region of the moon and will function for one lunar day, which is equal to about 14 Earth days. This soft landing would take place on September 6, approximately 52 days after its launch.
Chandrayaan-2’s rover, ‘Pragyan’ is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle, which will crawl out of lander Vikram, four hours after landing. It will explore the surface of the moon and study the presence and distribution of water among other molecules.

Other payloads of the spacecraft include a Terrain Mapping Camera, Imaging IR Spectrometer, Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer. All the systems have been developed indigenously by ISRO.

After, nearly a decade of launching Chandrayaan –I, Indias’s second trip to the moon is backed by extensive scientific research and aimed at better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 will undertake detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a lot of other experiments on the surface of the moon. It will also try to understand the history of the early solar system, and learn the secrets of Earth’s formation.

The mission is being touted as one of the most complex missions undertaken by Indian space Research Organization (ISRO,) due to the fact that Chandrayaan -2 will explore the South Pole Region of the Moon. This region of the moon is completely unexplored location as no other nation has traversed this part before barring only China’s ‘Change’e 4which landed near the South Pole.

The success of this mission will make India the fourth nation in the world, after the United States, Russia and China, to land on Moon. Lunar South Pole is an interesting space, as a large section is in the shadow, which gives a higher possibility of the presence of water in the region. This region also has craters that are cold traps and contain fossil record of the early Solar System.

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Sudhanshu Malik

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