Chandrayaan-2′s landing module Vikram will begin its final descent for the proposed soft landing on the Lunar surface in the early hours of Saturday and the touchdown is scheduled between 1.30 am and 2.30 am.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan, according to PTI, said on Friday that things are progressing as per plan for the event. He described the soft-landing as “almost like placing a baby on the cradle”, and said, “there is certain amount of anxiety but there is no fear.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the ISRO Centre in Bengaluru to watch the landing. He will be joined by 60 students.
If successful, the mission will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to achieve the feat.
Chandrayaan 2 will also be the first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the moon’s south polar region.
Why the south pole of the moon?
— ISRO says the craters on this part of the moon have been untouched by sunlight for billions of years and can offer an undisturbed record of the solar system’s origins.
— There is a possibility of the presence of water in the permanently shadowed craters.
— It is also possibly an untapped source of resources: hydrogen, ammonia, methane and others.
What is the objective of the moon mission?
Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, ISRO said, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.
P Sreekumar, Director of SSPO, explained that the advanced synthetic aperture radar on Chandrayaan 2 has a unique capability to look for water below the surface, identify the presence of water ice at depths of a few metres.
Some other objectives of the mission include studying the surface of the moon and studying the density of the electrons in the moon’s ionosphere.
What will various parts of Chandrayaan-2 do?
Chandrayaan-2 consists of an orbiter, lander and rover.
The rover, named as Pragyan, will detach itself from the lander once on the moon and collect data, according to The Indian Express. Its objective would be to study the composition of the moon’s surface, and determine the abundance of elements, the report added.
The lander, called Vikram, has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Pragyan rover. Vikram has several payloads, including RAMBHA and ILSA.
Langmuir probe named ‘Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere’ or RAMBHA for short, is installed on Vikram, according to Firstpost. It will measure factors such as ambient electron density/temperature near the lunar surface and temporal evolution of lunar plasma density near the surface under varying solar conditions.
Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) triple axis, MEMS-based seismometer that can detect minute ground displacement, velocity, or acceleration caused by lunar quakes. It will characterise the seismicity around the landing site.
Chandra’s Surface Thermo-physical Experiment is another payload, which will measure the vertical temperature gradient and thermal conductivity of the lunar surface.
(With PTI inputs)