Image credit: ISRO
India is on the precipice of it’s most ambitious lunar mission yet. On July 14th, the Chandrayaan-2 Lunar exploration mission will commence, lifting off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in collaboration with Russia’s Roscosms, has designed and built a triple threat; A Lunar orbiter, lander, and rover all in one.
The Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk.3, arrived at the launch pad earlier this morning. The launch is scheduled for 2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT).
ISRO’s plan is to first orbit the moon before detaching its lander, and soft landing on the moon in the high planes near the southern lunar pole. If successful in their mission, India will be the 4th country to soft land on the moon. The qualifier “soft land” is necessary considering one country already this year has “hard landed” on the surface, resulting in mission failures.
Image Credit: ISRO
Once landed, Chandrayaan-2’s lander will deploy the tiny Pragyan rover, which will use onboard scientific equipment to measure data from the surface. Data will relay from the rover to the lander, up to the orbiter, and back to earth. The ISRO expects the lunar lander and rover to function for one lunar day (14 earth days). Chandrayaan-2’s lunar orbiter is expected to continue its mission for one year. India will be only the second country to land near the southern pole, following China’s Chang’e 4 which landed earlier this year.
Image Credit: ISRO
The location for the landers landing site was specifically chosen by Chandrayaan-1, a lunar orbiter launched in 2008. Chandrayaan-1 used a Moon Impact Probe launched into the south pole to determine a landing zone for it’s cousin Chandrayaan-2. With it’s impact, India was the fourth country to plant its flag on the lunar surface, albeit a little fast. Let’s hope for a softer landing for Chandrayaan-2.