India set to launch Moon rover and orbiter

Saturday, 13 Jul, 2019

The success of Chandrayaan-2 mission will make India the fourth country in the world to land and ride on the Moon surface after the US, Russia and China. If everything goes to plan and the lander successfully touches down on the lunar surface, India will become just the fourth nation to complete a soft-or controlled-landing on the moon, after the US, former Soviet Union and China. If Chandrayaan-2 is able to find ice in this part of the moon, it will be easier for humans to stay here.

Despite the relatively small budget, the mission does raise questions about how funds are allocated when the country is still battling hunger and poverty.

India launched its first Moon mission Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008 using its light rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

Call it "Bahubali" or "Fat Boy", those were the two nicknames given to India's largest and the most powerful rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) that is set to launch from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on July 15.

Something caused a giant hole on the Moon billions of years ago, and astronomers believe there's something big underneath the surface. Its impact released underground debris which was later analysed by instruments on Chandrayaan 1 for further evidence of existence of water molecules. Experiments on Lunar Topography, Seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-phyiscal characteristics of top soil and the composition of the tenous lunar atmosphere will also be held.

The Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission will be also be carrying a laser retroreflector array (LRA) from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Center for calculating the precise measurements of the Moon to Earth distance. Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and soft land at the predetermined site close to the lunar South Pole. It is India's first rover-based space mission. It can travel up to 500 m (½-a-km) and leverages solar energy for its functioning.

Several state-of-art indigenous systems were conceived and realised in the areas of navigation, guidance, control, onboard autonomy, precision sensors, and intricate communication links involving orbiter, lander, rover, and ground systems for this mission.

The Indian space agency said the mission will also try to unravel the origins of the Moon.

What are the scientific objectives of Chandrayaan 2?

Chandrayaan 2 is a 3-stage GSLV Mk-III spacecraft. After Chandrayaan I mission, we are now entering into Chandrayaan II mission.

GSLV Mk III is now capable of placing a 4,000 kg satellite in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, which is at a height of about 42,000 kilometres above the Earth's surface. Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-2's orbiter is expected to remain operational for about a year, sending back information about the moon to ISRO.