Chandrayaan-2: India launches second Moon mission
Published: 11:00 PM, 22 July 2019
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its second lunar mission-Chandrayaan-2 at 2.34 pm from the country’s only launch site Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota of Andhra Pradesh.
With the launching of Chandrayaan-2, India became the fourth country after the United States of America, the erstwhile Soviet Union and China to land on the lunar surface.
The mission comes 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 that made history by making more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009, media reports said.
The 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2, a three-component spacecraft comprising an orbiter, Lander and rover, will explore the unchartered lunar South Pole.
This will also be the first space mission to rove on the south pole of the moon looking for water, ice and cold traps that could preserve the history of our solar system.
At least 7,500 people witnessed the launch of the mission from the viewing gallery set up by ISRO in April as part of its outreach initiatives, the Hindustan Times reported.
Principal Scientific Adviser K Vijaya Raghavan, former ISRO Chairpersons Radhakrishnan and Kiran Kumar present at the mission control centre to witness the launch of Chandrayaan-2 onboard GSLV Mklll.
Chandrayaan-2 aims at finding more evidence for the existence of water molecules and study the evolution of the moon and the earth.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will spend six additional days in Earth’s orbit and 15 fewer days around the Moon before it lands on the day that was originally planned, an ISRO scientist said giving details of how the mission will stick to its timelines despite a week’s delay.
The 20-hour countdown for the lift-off at 2.43pm on Monday began on Sunday evening; six days after the July 15 attempt had to be aborted with just 56 minutes and 24 seconds left on the clock.
The delay was forced by a leak in the engine of the GSLV-MkIII rocket that is to carry the Chandrayaan-2 into space.
“The Lander-rover was designed to carry out experiments during one lunar day – or 14 Earth days. To ensure that the scientific experiments can be carried out for the entire duration, it was essential that the Lander-rover descend to the Moon on the same day,” the Hindustan Times said quoting an ISRO official.
In order to catch up, the scientists have made tweaks that are necessary to keep in place a careful choreography of movements crucial to ensure the spacecraft does not overshoot the Moon, crash into surface or land at a spot not designated for the mission.
The adjustments involve keeping the spacecraft in Earth’s orbit for six more days than planned. At this stage, the Chandrayaan-2 will use the Earth’s gravity to slowly gather speed before it slingshots its way to the moon.
The journey to the Moon will take place over seven days, two days more than previous plan.
The biggest change will be in the time the Chandrayaan-2 spends in the lunar orbit. To gain the lost time due to the delayed launch and the additional days around Earth and in the journey in between, the time spent in the lunar orbit will be reduced from 28 days to 13 days, the official quoted above added.
On Day 48 after the launch, the Lander (containing scientific gauges and a robotic rover that will roll out onto the surface) will detach and begin a five-day descent that will involve “fine” and “rough” braking manoeuvres involving thrusters.
The Lander will attempt a soft landing near the South Pole between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, and study the shadowy regions within.
The spot holds significance because the first Chandrayaan mission, in 2008, dropped an impactor near the Sackleton Crate on the South Pole and found conclusive proof of water in the lunar soil, rocks and atmosphere.
That point was named the Jawahar point since the landing took place on the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
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