Chandrayaan as the name suggests is a prestigious mission undertaken by ISRO to examine and research elements of the moon. The first ambitious project Chandrayaan 1 set off on 22nd October, 2008 from Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This project dealt with remote sensing operations on the surface of the moon.
Chandrayaan-2 is the next leap in this project, again undertaken by ISRO to explore the southern polar regions of the moon. It is to be noted that the southern Polar Regions remain relatively unmanned by any spaceships from any country and India is leading the research flag in this regard.
The mission at a glance
The lunar unmanned mission was incepted by the expert team at ISRO mainly to collect data from remote sensors, aggregate the collected data and send it back to the receptors that are held in the moon’s orbit and then back to ground to research and further act on the collected data.
Technically the mission aims to sense, attract relevant data through receptors, coagulate the received data and then feed the ground working systems to get a picture of the various parameters of the moon’s surface. The parameters under testing operations include chemical, mineral based, element oriented etc and the presence and features of every such entity is looked up for and then carefully worked at.
To carry out this extensive and elaborate mission, heavy equipment’s with high scientific precision are made use of at every aspect and monitored at. Some of them are lunar vehicles, launch vehicles, spacecrafts, ground monitoring system and receptor enabled back-end supporting equipment’s, integrator, high information receptors, launch pads, communication equipment’s, telemetry systems, telecommunication equipment’s, data collectors, archival programs and selection based operators etc.
These space vehicles are designed to act at specific lunar surfaces, those that have abundant gamma ray, infra red and x-ray emissions plus visible parts at sight. The mission begins with the launching of the space vehicle, integrating with particular space oriented payloads on the moon’s surface, aligning with the moon’s orbit and finally testing of received data through telemetry systems.
The launch vehicles are designed to capture the lunar surface images in-situ and care is taken that the processed images are high resolution based for conducting further research on them. There are two aspects that are taken care of while imaging operations are done by the space vehicle. Mineral based elements plus chemical based elements are two aspects combined to be sent out rightly to the receptors for conducting further tasks ahead.
Specific regions of the moon like the North Pole and the South Pole are almost always shadowed and not many countries have contributed for conducting studies in these particular regions. It is here that India is playing a leading role in bringing about a game changing mission and exploring its space vehicles in these parts.
The presence of water along with minerals and chemicals is another debatable suppository to the whole mission and the teams are working through to find the presence of water or ice on the lunar surface. In particular, the presence of water and ice are looked for at the north and south poles of the moon and research data is further aggregated to profound results and escalate them for higher levels of the mission.
The presence of rocks and rocky layers and their compositions and composite particulate matter and elementary particles are tested for. This acts as a specific parameter to evaluate the specific height of the lunar surface and the variations in height of the surface at various places.
The terrain is tested not just for its chemical compositions and for the presence of water, but also for the height variations of planar surfaces and rocky surfaces if any. It is the US, USSR, Japan and China that have already conquered this feat and India has also made it to this list with recent achievements.
Chandrayaan-2 and ISRO
The mission Chandrayaan-2 was launched on 22nd July 2019 by ISRO through the Geosynchronous Satellite launch vehicle Mark 3 rocket. The biggest landmark India has created is by making its way to the moon for the second time to place a rover on the lunar surface.
The entire budget of the sophisticated yet successful mission has been calculated as being less than 1000 crore creating a milestone in India’s space history. The lander and rover are earmarked to make a smooth landing on the lunar surface on September 07th 2019. The first mission to the moon was successful under Chandrayaan 1 and this project too aims to replicate the success of Chandrayaan and leap much farther than that.
This launch vehicle will help Chandrayaan 2 to reach its designated orbit, which in this case is named Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The launch vehicle for the Chandrayaan 2 has been designed to be a 3 stage vehicle. It is also designed to carry a weight of 4 tones that will launch particular satellites to the designated orbit GTO. The 3 stages are orbiter, lander and rover. The lander has been named as Vikram and rover as Pagan respectively.
The orbiter weighs 2,379 kgs. The orbiter is designed to maintain communications with both the IDSN which is the Indian Deep Space Network and the lander. The life expectancy of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is one year until which it will be aligned in the lunar orbit. The lander of the mission weighs 1,471 kg and it has been named after Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. The lander is functioned to communicate with the orbiter, rover as well as the IDSN.
The main responsibility of the lander is to make sure that Chandrayaan 2 has a normal and technically smooth landing on the surface of the moon. Now, coming to the rover, it is the lightest weighted part of the spacecraft weighing just 27 kgs.
The rover is designed to ensure communication with only the lander. It is made up of 6 wheels. It is robotic built equipment and has the capability to traverse around 500 meters on the lunar surface. The best part of the rover is that it completely utilises solar energy for all its operations and functionalities.
Other technical features inbuilt in Chandrayaan 2 include high resolution cameras and spectrometers, 3D mapping cameras, etc. Spectrometers again are of two types, soft x-ray spectrometers and infrared spectrometers. The specific purposes of these elements on the spacecraft are explained here in detail.
High resolution cameras for the most basic purpose of capturing the surface features of moon, the terrain composition and chemical composition of the land. X-ray spectrometers work into the rock particles, their presence and composition on the lunar surface. Infrared spectrometers are held for the purpose of identifying the presence of water on the lunar surface plus the composition of mineral particles.
These parameters have already been studied and analysis and testing done in Chandrayaan 1 mission, but the second mission is to take these findings a step further and go deep into the research aspect of the earlier project. The CTTC or Central Tool Room and Training centre based out of Bhubaneswar is to be credited for the physical construction part of the GSLV Mark 3.
The way ahead
Senior scientists at ISRO Ritu Karidhal and Vanitha M are the expert masterminds behind Chandrayaan 2. Before the rover makes the designated landing in the south pole region of the moon, the rocket GSLV is tested for a series of maneuvering tests by the ground team experts and then one the lunar atmosphere is explored, the rocket is placed at a trajectory path of about 100 kms away from the surface of the moon.
The rover will be put into immediate action to test the soil particulate matters, the presence of waters, rocks and rocky layers etc. The orbiter is expected to extend a life coverage span of about a year and experiments would be conducted back here for 14 days exactly on earth, which is equivalent to one moon day.
Right from ensuring the soft landing of the rover on the lunar surface to the carrying out of operations and testing, experimenting and researching processes are conducted with precision by the high profile ISRO scientists’ team.
The south polar region of the moon has not been touched by the other countries that have made their footprint appear on the moon. The reason behind this is the presence of relatively higher density of crackers in this part of the moon. It is also known to contain an earlier footprint of the evolution of the solar system and its constituents.
Hence, India has been ahead in the rate race to place its system on the moon, specifically in the south Polar Regions and also a high precision rover that is going to perform designated tasks and help research squads, students and fellow members to proceed further with their investigations and studies on the moon.
Extensive studies involving the terrain and topography of the lunar surface associated with primary testing and analysis of soil, looking for presence of water and exploring various rocky beds and craters is the main purpose of mission Chandrayaan 2.