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10 years after first moon probe, India readies Chandrayaan-2 for early next year

Posted on : 19-12-2017 | Back | Print
NEW DELHI: A decade after India's maiden lunar odyssey in 2008, India will launch another lunar expedition in early 2018 by sending a lander and a rover to explore the Moon to unravel its origin and present conditions.

The second Moon mission—Chandrayaan-2—is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration. The orbiter with scientific payloads will orbit around the moon.

The lander will soft-land on the Moon at a specified site and deploy the rover. The scientific payloads onboard the orbiter, lander and rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.

Last year, ISRO conducted tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission at its facility in Challakere in Karnataka, where simulated lunar craters were created for landing mission. Several craters, resembling the terrain of the moon, were created on the ground at the facility to test instruments and sensors on the lander of Chandeayaan-2.

The sensors on Chandrayaan-2 will help ISRO validate, confirm and even make more crucial in-depth discoveries of the moon's topography in continuation to Chandrayaan-1 discoveries. While Chandrayaan-1 found water on the moon, Chandrayaan-2 will help calculate the amount of water on the moon.

Chandrayaan-1 was credited with the first discovery of water on the moon on November 14, 2008. It lost communication with ISRO ground stations on August 29, 2009 due to a technical problem. It was thought to have crashed on the moon.

But nine years since its launch, a new radar technology pioneered by scientists at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was put into place to trace Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Chandrayaan-1. Scientists at JPL located the spacecraft still circling some 200 kilometres above the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-2 will be launched onboard the space agency's heavy rocket—Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II—from the second launch pad of the space port, located at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

As part of integration, the lander and rover would be configured for soft landing at a designated spot on the Moon and to conduct scientific experiments. The rover will emerge from the lander to observe the lunar terrain and relay the data along with images through radio links.

For launching Chandrayaan-1, the ISRO used PSLV rocket as the spacecraft carried only an impact probe vehicle to crash land on the Moon surface from its orbit.

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