- Chandrayaan-2 is India’s first lander mission.
- It consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
- The Lander and Rover modules will separate from the orbiter and make a soft-landing on moon’s surface (either on September 5 or 6, 2019).
- The lander and rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day) while the orbiter would remain in orbit for a year.
Orbiter – The Orbiter would once again watch the moon from a 100-km orbit.
- The Orbiter is a 2379-kg spacecraft with 7 instruments on board.
- It is equipped with different kinds of cameras to take high-resolution three-dimensional maps of the surface.
- It also has instruments to study the mineral composition on the moon and the lunar atmosphere, and to assess the abundance of water.
- The Orbiter will observe lunar surface and relay communication between Earth and the Lander.
Lander – ISRO has named the Lander module as Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme.
- The 1471-kg lander will remain stationary after touching down on the moon’s surface.
- It will carry three instruments that will mainly study the moon’s atmosphere.
- One of the instruments will also look out for seismic activity on lunar surface.
Rover – The Rover is a 6-wheeled, Artificial Intelligence-powered and solar-powered vehicle named Pragyan, meaning wisdom.
- Once on the moon, the rover will detach itself from the lander.
- Equipped with two instruments, it would slowly crawl on the surface, making observations and collecting data.
- Its primary objective is to study the composition of the moon’s surface near the landing site.
- It would also determine the abundance of different elements on the moon’s surface.
- Try and build on the evidence of water molecules shown by Chandrayaan-I and study the extent and distribution of water on the Moon
- Study topography, seismography, composition of lunar surface and the lunar atmosphere
- The study of ancient rocks and craters can offer indications of origin and evolution of the Moon.
- The South Pole region of the Moon also contains clues to the fossil records of early solar system. Thus, it will improve our understanding of the early solar system as well.
- Map the lunar surface and prepare 3D maps of it.
Chandrayaan 2 and every other moon mission mapped
- With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the 4th country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon.
- So far, all landings, human as well as non-human, on the moon have been in areas close to its equator.
- This was mainly because this area receives more sunlight that is required by the solar-powered instruments to function.
- Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, near the South pole of the moon.
- It is a completely unexplored territory and therefore offers great scientific opportunity for the mission to discover something new.
- [Incidentally, the crash-landing of the MIP from the Chandrayaan-1 mission had also happened in the same region.]
- South pole – The south pole of the moon holds the possibility of the presence of water.
- This is one aspect that would be probed meticulously by Chandrayaan-2.
- In addition, this area is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters.
- It can thus offer indications of history of moon, and also contain clues to the fossil records of early solar system.
Geotail and its impact on Chandrayaan-2
- Recently, ISRO tweeted that an instrument on Chandrayaan-2, CLASS, had detected charged particles during the mission.
- This happened during the orbiter‘s passage through the ‗Geotail‘.
- The Geotail is a region in space that allows the best observations.
- The region exists as a result of the interactions between the Sun and Earth.
- The Sun emits the solar wind, which is a continuous stream of charged particles.
- These particles are embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun.
- Since the Earth has a magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma.
- This interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth.
- On the Earth side facing the Sun, the envelope is compressed into a region that is approximately 3 to 4 times
- the Earth radius.
- On the opposite side, the envelope is stretched into a long tail, which extends beyond the orbit of the Moon.
- It is this tail that is called the Geotail.
- Once every 29 days, the Moon traverses the geotail for about six days.
- When Chandrayaan-2, which is orbiting the Moon, crosses the geotail, its instruments can study the properties
- of the geotail.
- It can helps to detect the presence of key elements like Na, Ca, Al, Si, Ti and Fe the lunar soil.