Successful Launch of Chandrayaan II Shall Prove ISRO’s Technological Prowess is Second to None

Author : Odisha Today Bureau | Posted on: 2019-06-22

As the launch date for India's second Moon mission nears, the journey of Chandrayaan 2 has already started from ISRO's satellite centre in Bengaluru and will be moving towards India's rocket port situated at Sriharikota. The lift-off is slated for 2:51 AM on July 15, 2019.


Chandrayaan 2 is an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) mission comprising an orbiter and a soft lander carrying a rover. This will be India's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1.


The primary objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and the ability to operate a robotic rover on the surface of the moon. Scientific goals include studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and finding the signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.


The mission is planned to be launched via a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) with an approximate lift-off mass of 3,877 kg (8,547 lb). It includes a lunar orbiter, lander and rover—all developed indigenously. Chandrayaan-2 stack would be initially put in the Earth parking orbit of 170 km perigee and 40,400 km apogee by the launch vehicle. It will then perform orbit raising operations followed by trans-lunar injection using its own power.


The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is a box-shaped craft with an orbital mass of 2379 kg and solar arrays capable of generating 1000 W power.  It will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) and will communicate with the Indian Deep Space Network and the lander. The mission will carry five instruments on the orbiter. Three of them are new, while two others are improved versions of those flown on Chandrayaan-1.


The orbiter will have a scientific payload comprising a visible terrain mapping camera, a neutral mass spectrometer, a synthetic aperture radar, a near infrared spectrometer, a radio occultation experiment, a soft X-ray spectrometer and solar X-ray monitor.


The Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC) will conduct high-resolution observations of the landing site prior to separation of the lander from the orbiter. Interfaces between the orbiter and its GSLV Mk III launch vehicle have been finalized. The orbiter's structure was manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and delivered to ISRO Satellite Centre on 22 June 2015.


The lander is named as Vikram after Vikram Sarabhai, who is widely regarded as the father of the Indian space programme. The lander has a mass of 1471 kg (including the rover), and can generate 650 W of solar power and can communicate directly to the Indian Deep Space Network, the orbiter, and the rover.


The Vikram lander will detach from the orbiter and descend to a lunar orbit of 30 km × 100 km (19 mi × 62 mi) using its 800 N (180 lbf) liquid main engines. It will then perform a comprehensive check of all its on-board systems before attempting to land on the lunar surface. Unlike Chandrayaan-1's Moon Impact Probe, the Vikram lander will make a soft landing, deploy the rover, and perform some scientific activities for approximately 15 days. The preliminary configuration study of the lander was completed in 2013 by the Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad.


The lander's main engine has successfully undergone a high altitude test for a duration of 513 seconds, and closed loop verification tests of the sensors, actuators and software were completed in 2016. Engineering models of the lander began undergoing ground and aerial tests in late October 2016, in Challakere in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka. ISRO created roughly 10 craters on the surface to help assess the ability of the lander's sensors to select a landing site.


The rover, Pragyan (also Pragyaan), is a 6-wheeled vehicle with a mass of 27 kg that runs on 50 W of solar power and can travel up to 500 m at a speed of 1 cm per second. The rover communicates directly with the lander and will hold cameras, alpha-proton X-ray spectrometer, and a laser-induced ablation spectroscopy experiment. Stereoscopic camera-based 3D vision using two NAVCAMs in front of rover will provide the ground team controlling the rovers a 3D view of the surrounding terrain, and help in path-planning by generating a digital elevation model of the terrain. The rover even has a rocker-bogie suspension system and six wheels, each driven by independent brushless DC electric motors. It will be performing all on-site chemical analysis and sending the data to the lander, which will relay it to the Earth station.


Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft land the lander and the rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° South. It is in the moon’s south pole, a region that is relatively less explored. Part of the reason why the south pole was chosen is convenience—it is relatively flat, does not have too many craters, offers visibility and solar light to power the systems. It’s also attractive from a scientific point of view as data from ISRO’s first lunar mission had provided evidence of the presence of sub-surface ice in craters near the moon’s north pole. The south pole, which is more under shadow than the north, is expected to provide opportunities to study signs of water, ice and minerals. The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will perform on-site chemical analysis.


The part of soft landing on moon is the most difficult move and has been divided into 'rough braking' and 'fine braking'. Variation in local gravity has to be calculated into lunar descent trajectory. The onboard NGC and Propulsion System has to work in unison, autonomously, and automatically for a successful landing. Additionally, the landing site landscape features should not result in a communication shadow area.


Successful landing would make India the 4th country to soft-land on the Moon, a feat achieved only by the space agencies of the US, USSR, and China. If successful, Chandrayaan-2 will be the second mission to soft land near the lunar south pole after the Chang'e 4, a Chinese spacecraft, which landed on that region on 3 January 2019.


Chandrayaan-2 is the most advanced mission compared to that of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched about 10 years ago.


Previously, while speaking to the media, the Chairman of ISRO K Sivan had revealed, “Through this mission, we aim to expand on the findings of Chandrayaan-1; develop and demonstrate key capabilities such as soft landing and roving on the lunar surface; design and deploy the Vikram lander, capable of soft landing on a specified lunar site, and deploy the Pragyan rover to explore the moon’s surface.”


 “The break-up of the mission’s cost is INR 603 crore for the spacecraft system and INR 375 crore for the launcher. Nearly 620 organisations (500 universities and 120 companies) have pitched in their tech-might and manpower,” explained Sivan.


Sivan had said that the success of Chandrayaan-2 will reinvigorate the spirit of scientific curiosity in the country and will also be added as the testament to the country’s scientific spirit.


The Only foreign contribution for this mission is from NASA. According to Sivan, NASA has given ISRO with a laser, which can measure the distance from the earth to the landing site. It will be carried free of cost.


Spelling out how a moon mission benefits the common man, Sivan had explained, “It will foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, promote more global alliances, stimulate the advancement of technology and grow commercial opportunities and inspire future generations.”


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