Chandrayaan-2: What Lander 'Vikram' & Rover 'Pragyan' plan to find on the Moon

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, successfully launched, Chandrayaan-2. The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover together referred to as 'composite body'.

India's historic move

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft at 2:43 pm IST on July 22, 2019, into its planned orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45475 Km. The launch took place at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

This was the second attempt by ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-2 after the first attempt had to be called off at the 11th hour on July 15.

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Functions of Chandrayaan-2

On entering Moon's sphere of influence, on-board thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for Lunar Capture. Subsequently, the orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the Moon will be circularised to a 100x100 km orbit through a series of orbital manoeuvres.

The fourteen-day mission aims to examine the surface, gathering data on minerals and even water in the form of ice.

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Composite body

The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander, Vikram, and a rover named Pragyan together referred to as 'composite body.'

The probe's total mass is 3.8 tonne and is expected to land on the Moon's south polar region on September 6 or 7 this year. The rover will remain on the moon for 14 days. 

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The Lander, Vikram

Once it's in lunar orbit 100 kilometres above the surface, the spacecraft will send a lander on a controlled descent to the surface. The Lander will then release a six-wheeled solar-powered rover that will cover about 200 metres of lunar territory.

The Lander (Vikram) will separate from the Orbiter and will then perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising of rough braking and fine braking.

Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones. Vikram will attempt to make a soft landing in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N at a latitude of about 70° South on 7th September 2019.

The Lander is named after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space programme. 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 surface at a touchdown velocity of 2 metres per second.

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The Rover, Pragyan

The Rover, Pragyan will roll out and carry out experiments on Lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of Vikram is also 1 lunar day. The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.

Chandrayaan- 2's rover is a 6 wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyaan which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit.

It can travel up to 500 m(0.5km) at a speed of 1 centimetre per second and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can communicate with the lander.

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PM Modi hails Chandrayaan-2 launch

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO scientists in an audio message released after the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2.

"Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history!" he said. 

"The launch of #Chandrayaan2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science. Every Indian is immensely proud today! " Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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US congratulates ISRO

Just after an hour of Chandrayaan-2 launch, the US congratulated ISRO officials on the successful liftoff applauding their "giant leap".

"Next stop – the moon!", the US embassy in India tweeted with the hashtag #CantWaitToSeeWhatYouDoNext #GSLVMkIII.

The European Space Agency too congratulated ISRO on the successful launch of the space satellite.

 

(Photograph:ANI)