Chandrayaan 2: India’s Historic Lunar Mission

1. Introduction

India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), embarked on a groundbreaking mission named Chandrayaan 2, which aimed to explore the uncharted territories of the Moon. This ambitious endeavor captured the attention of the world, as it showcased India’s prowess in space exploration and scientific advancements. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating journey of Chandrayaan 2, its objectives, challenges faced, and the impact it has made on India’s space program.

2. The Inspiration Behind Chandrayaan 2

The Chandrayaan 2 mission was fueled by the desire to explore the Moon further and expand our knowledge of its geological composition, topography, and the presence of water molecules. Building upon the success of the previous Chandrayaan 1 mission, which discovered traces of water on the lunar surface, India aimed to take a giant leap forward in its lunar exploration program.

3. Objectives of the Mission

The primary objectives of Chandrayaan 2 were to study the south polar region of the Moon, perform a soft landing of the lander, and deploy a rover to explore the lunar surface. By conducting detailed investigations, the mission aimed to gather vital data that would contribute to a better understanding of the Moon’s origin and evolution.

4. Design and Components of Chandrayaan 2

Chandrayaan 2 comprised three essential components: the Orbiter, the Lander, and the Rover. The Orbiter served as the communication link between the mission control and the Lander-Rover duo. It carried a suite of scientific instruments to study the lunar surface from an orbital altitude of around 100 kilometers.

The Lander, named Vikram, was designed to execute a soft landing near the south pole of the Moon. It housed the Pragyan Rover, which was responsible for conducting in-situ experiments, capturing images, and collecting valuable data about the lunar terrain.

5. Launch and Journey to the Moon

On July 22, 2019, Chandrayaan 2 was launched atop the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. The launch marked a significant milestone for ISRO, as it propelled India into the league of nations capable of undertaking complex lunar missions.

After a series of precisely calculated orbital maneuvers, Chandrayaan 2 embarked on its journey to the Moon. The spacecraft covered a distance of nearly 384,000 kilometers over several weeks, employing gravity assists from Earth and the Moon to conserve fuel and optimize the trajectory.

6. Challenges Encountered

While Chandrayaan 2 showcased India’s technological prowess, it also faced its fair share of challenges. During the landing phase, a communication glitch resulted in a deviation from the intended trajectory. Despite the setback, ISRO’s exceptional efforts ensured that valuable data was still obtained from the Orbiter and several scientific objectives were achieved.

7. Scientific Discoveries and Contributions

Chandrayaan 2 played a crucial role in expanding our understanding of the Moon. The Orbiter’s payload successfully detected and mapped water molecules across the lunar surface, providing important insights into the Moon’s water distribution. Additionally, it captured high-resolution images and generated detailed 3D maps of the Moon’s topography, enabling scientists to gain valuable knowledge about its geological features.

8. Significance of Chandrayaan 2 for India

Chandrayaan 2 holds immense significance for India on various fronts. Firstly, it demonstrated India’s technological capabilities and its ability to undertake complex space missions. The mission also inspired a new generation of scientists and instilled a sense of national pride. Furthermore, Chandrayaan 2 fostered international collaborations, with several countries expressing interest in partnering with India for future space exploration endeavors.

9. Future Implications and Collaborative Endeavors

The success of Chandrayaan 2 has paved the way for exciting future missions. ISRO is actively working on Chandrayaan 3, which aims to achieve the unaccomplished objectives of the previous mission, including the soft landing and rover deployment. Additionally, India is exploring opportunities for collaborative ventures with other space agencies to further advance lunar exploration and unlock the Moon’s mysteries.

10. Conclusion

Chandrayaan 2 marked a significant milestone in India’s space exploration journey, demonstrating the nation’s technological prowess and scientific achievements. Despite the challenges faced during the mission, it successfully achieved crucial scientific objectives and captured the imagination of people worldwide. With plans for future missions and collaborations, India’s space program continues to evolve, unraveling the mysteries of the Moon and inspiring generations to dream big.

11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What did Chandrayaan 2 discover?

Chandrayaan 2, specifically its orbiter component, has made several significant discoveries and contributed to our understanding of the moon. Here are some of the key findings:

1. Water on the Moon: The orbiter’s payload, the Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS), detected water molecules on the lunar surface. This discovery confirmed the presence of water in the form of ice in the polar regions of the moon.

2. Lunar Surface Composition: The orbiter’s Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar (DFSAR) provided detailed images and data about the moon’s surface composition, including the identification of various minerals and lunar geological features.

3. Mapping of Lunar South Pole: Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter captured high-resolution images of the lunar south pole region, which is relatively unexplored. These images have helped in mapping the region’s topography and identifying potential landing sites for future lunar missions.

4. Lunar Exosphere: The orbiter’s Chandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2) instrument studied the moon’s thin exosphere, which consists of a tenuous layer of gases. It provided valuable data about the distribution and dynamics of elements and compounds in the lunar exosphere.

5. Lunar Magnetic Field: The orbiter’s Dual Frequency Radio Science (DFRS) experiment helped in studying the moon’s ionosphere and measuring its variations. It also contributed to our understanding of the moon’s magnetic field and its interaction with the solar wind.

These discoveries and data collected by Chandrayaan 2 have significantly enhanced our knowledge of the moon and laid the groundwork for future lunar missions and scientific research.

What were the primary objectives of Chandrayaan 2?

The primary objectives were to study the lunar surface, perform a soft landing near the south pole, and deploy a rover for in-situ experiments.

Did Chandrayaan 2 discover water on the Moon?

Yes, Chandrayaan 2’s Orbiter detected water molecules across the lunar surface, contributing to our understanding of the Moon’s water distribution.

What challenges did Chandrayaan 2 face during the mission?

Chandrayaan 2 encountered a communication glitch during the landing phase, resulting in a deviation from the intended trajectory.

What are the future plans for India’s lunar exploration program?

ISRO is working on Chandrayaan 3, aiming to accomplish the objectives that were not achieved in Chandrayaan 2. Additionally, India is exploring collaborations with other space agencies for future lunar missions.

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