India Aims for the Moon on Monday in Nation’s Most Ambitious Space Mission Yet

Chandrayaan 2 in Earth orbit with lander on top and orbiter on the bottom. (Credit: ISRO)

UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed due to a technical problem with the booster. ISRO has not announced a new launch date yet.

India is aiming for the moon for the second time with the most ambitious space mission the nation has ever attempted. On Monday, the GSLV-Mk III booster is set to launch the Chandrayaan 2 mission, which includes an orbiter, lander and rover.

Live coverage begins on the ISRO website on Monday, July 15 at 02:30 hrs (Sunday, July 14 at 2100 UTC/5 pm EDT/2 pm PDT).

Below are details taken from the ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission kit.

Lunar Orbiter

Chandrayaan 2 orbiter near the moon. (Credit: ISRO)

Technical Specifications

Weight: 2,379 kg
Dimensions: 3.2 x 5.8 x 2.1 m
Power: 1,000 W
Payloads: 8
Mission Life: 1 year in lunar orbit

At the time of launch, the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter will be capable of communicating with the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu, as well as with the Vikram lander. The mission life of the Orbiter is one year, during which it will be placed in a 100 x 100 km lunar polar orbit.

Payloads

Terrain Mapping Camera: Will generate a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the entire Moon
Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer: Will test the elemental composition of the Moon’s surface
Solar X-Ray Monitor: Will provide solar X-ray spectrum inputs for CLASS
Imaging IR Spectrometer: Will map the Moon’s mineralogy and confirm the presence of water-ice on the lunar surface through Megala check
Chandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2: Will examine the Moon’s neutral exosphere
Orbiter High Resolution Camera: Will conduct high-res topography mapping
Synthetic Aperture Radar L&S Bands: Will map the polar region and confirm the presence of water-ice at the sub-surface level
Dual Frequency Radio Science Experiment: Will study the lunar ionosphere

Vikram Lander

Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander. (Credit: ISRO)

Technical Specifications

Weight: 1,471 kg
Power: 650 W
Payloads: 4
Dimensions: 2.54 x 2 x 1.2 m
Mission Life: 1 lunar day (~14 days)

Chandrayaan 2’s lander is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Pragyan rover. The lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface at a touchdown velocity of 2 metres per second.

Landing Site: High plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70.9° South 22.7° East
Alternate Site: 67.7 ° South 18.4° West

Payloads

Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity: Will characterise the seismicity around the landing site
Chandra’s Surface Thermo-physical Experiment: Will examine the Moon’s thermal conductivity and temperature gradient
Langmuir Probe: Will conduct ionosphere studies on the lunar surface

Pragyan Rover

Credit: ISRO

Chandrayaan 2’s rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m (0.5 km) at a speed of 1 centimeter per second, and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can communicate with the lander.

Payloads

Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer: Will determine the elemental composition of the Moon
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope: Will identify elemental abundance in the vicinity of the landing site
Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA): Will help us understand the dynamics of Earth’s Moon system and also derive clues about the lunar interior