Eleven years after its maiden successful unmanned mission to the moon which found traces of water there, India is all set for the launch of the second one in the wee hours tomorrow (July 15).
The mission has an objective of studying the lunar surface looking for possible presence of minerals, energy and the evolution of the entire solar system, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The Chandrayaan-2 will be launched from Indian Space Research Organization’s launch pad at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, by Geosynchronized Launch Vehicle Mark III at 2.51 Indian time for India’s most ambitious space mission so far and all preparations are going on for this, according to the space agency’s chairman K Sivan.
This will be the first time that a moon mission will land in the hitherto unexplored south pole region of the celestial body because all previous missions by other countries had landed in the equatorial region of the moon.
The objective of the nearly Rs 1,000-crore Chandrayan 2 mission is to take up a detailed study on understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon and composition of its soil and rocks, according to ISRO.
The moon mission will consist of Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover. The lander is expected to start operations after touch down on the lunar surface in the first week of September.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the lander would make a soft landing in the lunar south pole of the moon, an uncharted territory so far, on September 6 while the orbiter of the Chandrayan 2 will go round the moon for a year.
Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission which had 11 payloads — five from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria.
India’s first mission to the moon had the credit for discovering water on the lunar surface, something that had earlier remained in the realms of speculations.
In fact, the finding of traces of water in the lunar surface by India’s first maiden mission had sparked a renewed global interest in the moon.
India’s second moon mission will carry 14 instruments which are expected to throw light on the quantity of water that could be present in the lunar surface and rocks, possible presence of Helium-3 which is considered a key source of energy and any seismic activity in the lunar surface.
India’s mission will also try to map a detailed topography of the moon’s surface, study if there is any presence of mineral in the lunar surface and examine solar radiation.
The ISRO is expected to undertake two more unmanned missions, the first in December 2020 and the second in July 2021 before India puts its astronauts in space in December 2022,” according to ISRO.
According to P Sreekumar, Director of ISRO’s Space Science Programme office, the finding of the trapped water in lunar rocks by India’s first mission was important and the very thin atmosphere of the moon also showed water content.
The second mission will try to look for presence of water below the moon’s surface as it is essential for sustained human presence out there, he said.
India’s second unmanned mission to the moon was earlier planned for March last year but had to be pushed back in order to make changes in the design of the lander and the orbit in which it would reach the lunar surface.