Chandrayaan-2 To Head Near Moon’s South Pole

India will launch Chandrayaan-2, the nation’s first lunar landing mission, just days before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

The rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), which will carry Chandrayaan-2 on its Moon mission on July 15, is India’s most powerful launcher to date.

“The payloads aboard Chandrayaan-2 will help in understanding the origin of the moon and how it is related to the earth; it is like doing a DNA analysis. Expanding on the findings of Chandrayaan 1, the mission will also aim to observe water ice on the surface of the moon,” said DR Mylswamy Annadurai, the former director of the ISRO satellite centre in Bengaluru.

The launch vehicle is capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the Moon will be circularised to 100km orbit through a series of complex orbital manoeuvres with the help of thrusters.

Vikram — the lander — will land near the Moon’s South Pole on September 6 or 7, 2019. Subsequently, the rover — Pragyan — will roll out and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for one lunar day (or 14 Earth days).

To get to the lunar orbit and then land on the Moon, Chandrayaan-2 has to perform a series of complex burns to change orbit. Firing engines close to the lunar surface results flow of dust, which is negatively charged and sticks to most surfaces and can cause disruption in deployment solar panel, sensors etc.

Nicknamed ‘Bahubali’, the GSLV Mk-III will lift off with 3.8 tonne Chandrayaan-2 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota at 2.51 a.m. on July 15.

Abha Boyal

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