ISRO has set a launch date for the follow up mission to Chandrayaan. Previously, ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar had indicated a rough time frame for the Chandrayaan 2 mission, by saying "We are targeting first quarter of 2018 for the launch". Now the date has been resolved with a little more detail, and ISRO is targeting March 2018 as the launch date for the mission, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
The launch vehicle used for the Chandrayaan I mission was India's workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), with a lift-off weight of 1,380 kg. For the Chandrayaan 2 mission, ISRO will be using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2 (GSLV MKII) with a lift-off weight of 2,650 kg. The Chandrayaan 1 mission included an orbiter component and an impact lander that crashed into the surface of the Moon.
For the Chandrayaan 2 mission, ISRO is attempting a more complex mission. There are three components in the mission, an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The orbiter and the lander will be stacked one on top of the other, and will first be injected into a parking orbit around the Earth. The spacecraft will then slingshot around the Earth in increasingly elongated elliptical orbits, before insertion into a lunar orbit. After that, there will be a series of orbits as the orbiter and the lander get increasingly closer to the Moon.
The orbiter will be deployed at an altitude of 100 km above the surface of the Moon. The lander will attempt a soft landing on the Moon, as against the impactor in the first mission. The lander has legs, which will be deployed just before the soft landing. A six wheeled rover will then separate from the lander, and explore the surface of the Moon. The total cost of the mission is expected to be around Rs 450 crore. The purpose of the mission is to conduct mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.
The Chandrayaan mission experienced various technical difficulties within a year of its launch, including problems with the star sensors and the thermal shielding, well before the intended mission duration. ISRO lost track of the orbiter. However, the spacecraft fulfilled almost 80 percent of its goals, and the observations fueled a number of advancements in the scientific understanding of the Moon.
Chandrayaan found ice on the surface of the Moon, found evidence of tectonic activity or moonquakes, and allowed researchers to create the first global map of water on the lunar surface. NASA used ground-based radar stations to track down the Chandrayaan orbiter, still going around the Moon, a technically challenging feat hailed by former ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair.
ISRO will launch a rocket on 28 December that will have not one, but two missions to the Moon. Team Indus from India and Team Hakuto from Japan will rideshare on the same PSLV in an attempt to bag the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for being the first private company to land a rover on the Moon, and navigate the rover for a distance of 500 metres. If everything goes as planned, Team Indus will plant an Indian flag on the lunar surface on 26 January, 2018, when India celebrates the 69th Republic Day.
Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 09:59 AM