chandrayaan-2-mission

Why in News?

  • The soft-landing of Chandrayaan-2's landing module, Vikram, did not go according to plan as all ground communication was lost with it just moments before the scheduled landing late on September 7.
  • Though ISRO has managed to locate Vikram, on Moon's surface a day after losing contact with the craft, however it is yet to establish contact with it.
Chandayaan 2
  • Chandrayaan - 2, a fully indigenous mission, is an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) mission comprising an orbiter and a soft lander carrying a rover, scheduled to launch to the Moon in July 2019.
  • Chandrayaan-2 will be India’s second outing to the moon.
  • Launcher-ISRO sent the mission on its   heavy lift booster, the GSLV MkIII, from Sriharikota.
  • The 3,800-kg spacecraft includes an orbiter which will circle the moon at 100 km; a five-legged lander called Vikram that will descend on the moon and a robotic rover, Pragyan, that will probe the lunar terrain around it. Chandrayaan-2 will carry 14 Indian payloads.
  • ISRO has chosen a landing area at the hitherto unexplored lunar south pole, making it the first agency to touch down at the south pole if it succeeds in its first landing attempt.
  • The primary objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface.
  • Scientific goals include studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.
  • Chandrayaan-2 will make India the 4th country in the world to soft-land on the moon, a feat achieved only by US, USSR and China till now.
Previous Moon Probes
  • In October 2008, the space organisation had launched its orbiter mission Chandrayaan-1 on its PSLV booster. The spacecraft had 11 payloads. One of the U.S. payloads shares credit with Chandrayaan-1 for confirming the presence of water ice on the moon.
  • Before that, the Moon Impacter Probe carrying the Indian tricolor image was made to hard-land on the lunar south pole
Benefits
  • Push the Boundaries of Scientific knowledge - Clues to some of the most fundamental questions about our Solar system. Studying those will help us unravel the mysteries of our universe.
  • Engage with the Public - It will inspire the whole nation and motivate the youth to undertake real-life applications of science and technology to be second to none in solving the problems of man and society.
  • Expand India’s Footprint in Space - Moon is the perfect test-bed for proving technologies required for future space exploration as well as in-situ resource utilization.
  • Unleash Innovation - Throwing grand challenge to the youth will unleash the innovation, spurring future research and development.
  • Explore Economic Possibilities - Industry has always been a partner in ISRO’s space program and the future holds bigger opportunities for strengthening the alliance.
  • Foster shared aspirations of International Community - India will be a key contributor in exploring and uncovering the secrets of universe an aspiration shared by the global community.
  • ISRO initially partnered with a startup-TeamIndus for the launch, which however could not materialize. Still, it gave a boost to the Indian startup industry in space sector thereby promoting entrepreneurship. Chandrayaan-2 offers similar possibilities.
  • For Chandrayaan-2 mission, two women - Ritu Kridhal and M Vanitha are leading as project and mission directors respectively. Thus, it is a symbol of women empowerment and an icon of women taking leadership roles in the country's biggest projects.
  • ISRO initially partnered with a startup-TeamIndus for the launch, which however could not materialize. Still, it gave a boost to the Indian startup industry in space sector thereby promoting entrepreneurship. Chandrayaan-2 offers similar possibilities.
  • For Chandrayaan-2 mission, two women - Ritu Kridhal and M Vanitha are leading as project and mission directors respectively. Thus, it is a symbol of women empowerment and an icon of women taking leadership roles in the country's biggest projects.
What is soft landing and why is it difficult?
  • A soft landing is any type of aircraft, rocket or spacecraft-lander landing that does not result in damage to/the destruction of the vehicle or anything on board. (Contradictory to hard landing.)
  • Soft-landing requires maintaining the required velocity with the thrusters and creating a fine balance among them. Vikram was to use five thrusters — four at the corners and one at the centre to make its final descent.
  • Another challenge is the moon dust which could wreck the engines of the thrusters.
A setback, not a failure
  • ISRO officials said on Saturday that losing contact with Chandrayaan2's lander and and rover was a setback and not a failure.
  • While it was impossible to retrieve the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan), only 5 per cent of the mission was lost. The remaining 95 per cent of the mission - the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter - was still orbiting the moon successfully.
  • The orbiter will take pictures of the moon, and probably even of the lander, and transmit them to ISRO, where they will be analyzed.
  • The Orbiter will enrich our understanding of the moon's evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the polar regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.
Way Forward
  • ISRO’s past record shows that there are no failures in science, only lessons.
  • This is not the first time an Indian space mission did not go according to the plan. When Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was then the project coordinator of SLV-3 mission in 1979 and Professor Satish Dhawan was the chairman of ISRO, the SLV crashed into the Bay of Bengal due to a faulty valve.
  • But ISRO learnt from the failure and successfully launched SLV-3 from the Sriharikota rocket launching station and the Rohini, satellite RS-1, was placed in orbit, making India the sixth member of an exclusive club of space-faring nations
  • Lessons from Chandrayaan-2 mission can be used in ISRO’S future missions like the Gaganyaan project, which aims to place three Indians in space by 2022, Interplanetary probes and a solar spacecraft mission (Aditya-L1), Permanent space station in line with the ISS.
  • India is already in talks with Japan’s JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) for a future mission Chandrayaan-3 in 2024, to bring back soil and rock samples from the South Pole of the Moon.
  • ISRO’s future missions are expected to further explore new areas in deep space technology. Moon is the perfect test-bed for proving technologies required for future space exploration.