Chandrayaan-2 Mission launch date and time: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Chandrayaan-2, its second spacecraft to the moon on July 15 at 2:51 am from the Satish Dhawan space centre in Sriharikota. This mission is aimed at landing a rover near the unexplored South Pole. According to ISRO, 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, it said.
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Chandrayaan-2, the Rs 1,000-crore mission, consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon. The space agency has named the Lander module Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai – the pioneer of India’s space programme – and the Rover module Pragyaan, meaning wisdom.
While the first mission was designed to just orbit the moon and make observations with instruments on board, Chandrayaan-2 is to land on the lunar planet on September 6.
The ‘Baahubali’ launcher
The responsibility to throttle Chandrayaan into space rests upon the shoulder of ‘Baahubali’ – the country’s heaviest and most powerful launcher to date. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III is a three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.
The rocket is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). It is currently undergoing final launch checks at the barrier island off the Bay of Bengal coast.
Once launched into an earth parking 170 x40400 km orbit, a series of maneuvers will be carried out to raise its orbit and put Chandrayaan-2 on Lunar Transfer Trajectory. “On entering moon’s sphere of influence, on-board thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for Lunar Capture. The Orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularised to 100×100 km orbit through a series of orbital maneuvers,” ISRO says.
Destination—Moon’s uncharted territory
With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the fourth country to land a spacecraft on moon. So far, all landings, human as well as non-human, have been in areas close to the equator of the moon.
Chandrayaan-2 is projected to make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, near the south pole of the Moon. The unexplored territory offers an opportunity for the mission to discover something new.
The area holds a wide possibility of the presence of water. In addition, this particular area is also said to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of the history of the Moon and also contain clues to the fossil records of the early solar system.
It is the first time that ISRO is attempting to soft-land a module in extra-terrestrial space. The Orbiter would once again watch the moon from a 100-km orbit, while the Lander and Rover modules will separate and make a soft-landing on moon’s surface.
The 1471-kg lander will remain stationary after touching down and will carry three instruments that will mainly study the moon’s atmosphere. To enable a smooth landing, the speed of the Lander just ahead of touchdown should be 1 m/s (3.6 km/h) or less.
One of the instruments will also look out for seismic activity on the lunar surface.
While the lander and the 6-wheeled, AI-powered rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day), the Orbiter, a 2379-kg spacecraft with seven instruments onboard, would remain in orbit for a year. The orbiter is also equipped with several kinds of cameras capable of taking high-resolution three-dimensional maps of the moon’s surface.