Analysis Return to the Moon

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With Chandrayaan-2, India will revisit the Moon. While its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1 helped discover water molecules on Earth’s natural satellite, Chandrayaan-2 will have the unique honour of landing a rover on a celestial body, the first such attempt by India. This week, discover more about this moon mission.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set for its next big mission – Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar exploration mission. In a recent announcement, Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Atomic Energy and Space, said that the ISRO eyes an April launch. However, the final decisions will be taken after considering the relative position of the moon with respect to the Earth.

No matter what the date is, we have many special things to look forward to with the launch of Chandrayaan-2. The mission which is completely indigenous with parts built in India, will study the south pole of the moon, a region previous lunar missions did not focus on. Let’s get to know more about the mission and its significance in this week’s Five Ws and One H.

WHAT Is The Mission All About?

Chandrayaan-2 is an unmanned mission. It includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The spacecraft carrying 13 scientific instruments will travel about one to two months from the day of launch before reaching the moon’s orbit. The Moon's orbit is 3,82,000 km away from the Earth's surface.

After reaching the 100 km-high lunar orbit, the lander containing the rover will separate from the orbiter. After a controlled descent, the lander will soft-land at a specified site on the south pole of the Moon and will deploy the rover, according to the ISRO.

The six-wheeled rover will move around the landing site in a semi-autonomous mode as guided by the ground commands. The rover is expected to last at least for 14 Earth days on the lunar surface. It will conduct an on-site chemical analysis of the surface and send data and images of the moon back to the Earth via the orbiter.

What Is The Purpose of Chandrayaan-2?

While the orbiter performs remote sensing of the moon's surface, the instruments on the rover will collect samples and analyse the lunar surface more closely. The various instruments aboard the orbiter, the rover and the lander will send back data on the topographical features of the moon. They will also analyse minerals and elements there.

The lander is equipped with a seismometer to study the quakes in the moon. This will provide insights into the moon's core.

Why Does The Mission Focus On The South Pole?

The south pole contains rocks that were formed millions of years ago. The study could possibly help understand the origin of the universe, believe scientists at the ISRO.

What Is The Cost And The Duration of The Mission?

The cost of Chandrayaan-2 mission is Rs 800 crore. The mission duration of the orbiter is one year, while that of the lander and the rover is 14 to 15 days. The spacecraft together with its payloads will weigh about 3,290 kg.

WHAT Are The Highlights of Chandrayaan-2?

1.The Chandrayaan-2 is India’s attempt at landing an object on the moon's surface. Only the U.S., Russia and China have been able to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar surface before.

2.Landings in thin atmosphere and low gravity of the moon are tricky, according to scientists. If executed successfully, it will be a big achievement for the ISRO.

3.Chandrayaan-2 was envisioned as an Indo-Russian collaboration. But it became a complete indigenous mission with Russia withdrew from it in 2015.

HOW Did The First Mission, Chandrayaan-1 Fare?

Chandrayaan-1 was launched in 2008 with a task to survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and three-dimensional topography. It carried six payloads from other space agencies including the NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, free of cost.

Chandrayaan-1 was intended to be a two-year project, but the orbiter encountered a series of technical problems, including malfunctions of its star sensors and the thermal shielding. The ISRO lost contact with the spacecraft and the mission was terminated in August 2009.

Among other scientific contributions, the greatest achievement of Chandrayaan-1 was the discovery of the widespread presence of water molecules on the lunar soil.

In 2017, NASA used ground-based radar systems to locate Chandrayaan-1 in its lunar orbit.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/return-to-the-moon/article22926878.ece