ISRO has today announced the commencement of the 20 hours launch countdown for its second mission to the moon, the Chandrayaan-2. The GSLV-MkIII, carrying the Chandrayaan-2, would be launched at 2:51 am from the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota.
— ISRO (@isro) July 14, 2019
If the mission turns out to be successful India would be the fourth country to land on the moon. Previously the US, the former Soviet Union and China were the ones to have successfully accomplished the moon landing. Here is what the Chandrayaan-2 seeks to achieve.
The Chandrayaan-2 would comprise of three integrated parts namely: the Orbiter, the Lander (Vikram) and the Rover (Pragyan). The Rover would be used to conduct experiments on the Moon’s surface. The mission is to land at the south pole of the moon. This would be the world’s first expedition to the south pole region of the Moon.
What makes #Chandrayaan2 so special? Other than being India’s first rover-based space mission, it will also be the world’s first expedition to reach the Moon’s south polar region! Here’s a look at where we’re going to go.https://t.co/RKeimdqjMW
— ISRO (@isro) July 3, 2019
So what’s there in the south pole? 10 years ago the Chandrayaan-1 mission had found evidence of water on the Moon’s sub-surface. Subsequent findings have also indicated the presence of water at the poles, in the darker side.
Till now only traces of sub-surface water has been found on the Moon. However, there is a greater possibility to find water in the south pole as it has a larger surface area under a permanent shadow. The south pole also contains craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early solar system.
On this edition of #RocketScience, P Sreekumar — Director of SSPO — helps us understand why we are going back to the Moon, and how Chandrayaan 2 serves to identify the presence of water below the lunar surface – https://t.co/YuN5SkyPZa #Chandrayaan2 #GSLVmkIII #ISRO pic.twitter.com/rhItflbJXU
— ISRO (@isro) July 12, 2019
As explained by ISRO, the mission is to use the moon as a laboratory to better understand Earth’s history. The moon was believed to have been a part of the Earth at one point in time. The water held at the south pole of the moon might be 3-4 billion years old, containing clues of the atmosphere during the earlier days of the solar system.
Besides this, the water may also serve a utilitarian purpose as well in the distant future. Reports also suggest that ISRO would be hunting for Helium-3 as well. In future, Helium-3 could be possibly used for waste-free nuclear energy. This particular isotope is rare on Earth but is found in abundance on the moon.
“The countries which have the capacity to bring that source from the moon to Earth will dictate the process. We don’t want to be just a part of them, we want to lead them”, said ISRO chairman K Sivan.
Reportedly, Wester media and scientific journals have said that the Chandrayaan-2 would only be costing half of the budget of the Hollywood movie “Avengers Endgame”.
According to ISRO the most critical part of the mission would be the landing on the Moon’s surface. In April this year, an Israeli private mission crash-landed on the Moon’s surface.
ISRO had announced the launch date of the mission a month ago. Once launched by the GSLV rocket, the composite structure—Orbiter, Lander and Rover together—will use five orbit raising manoeuvres over 16 days before it lands on the moon. The Chandrayaan-2 mission would cost Rs 603 crore while the GSLV MK III would cost Rs 375 crore.
ISRO recently signed an MoU with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to select and train astronauts for India’s first manned mission, the Gaganyaan project. An all-weather earth observation spy satellite RISAT-2B was launched greatly boosting the country’s space capability.
Update: The Chandrayaan2 launch on 14th July was called off hours before the takeoff. The moon mission was successfully launched today from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.