Chandrayaan 2: Why ISRO’s Moon mission on the South Polar region is a landmark step

By: |
July 09, 2019 6:15 PM

ISRO 'Chandrayaan 2' is set to launch on July 15th from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota.

ISRO Chandrayaan 2Chandrayaan 2 will be launched in the GSLV Mk-III, India’s most powerful launcher. (Image: ISRO)

Chandrayaan 2 news: ISRO’s much-awaited second version of the lunar mission the ‘Chandrayaan 2’ is set to launch on July 15th from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota on-board the GSLV Mk-III. The Chandrayaan 2 mission will target a completely unexplored section of the Moon that is, its “South Polar region”. The mission aims to get a better understanding of the Moon’s origin and its evolution by conducting topographical studies and mineralogical analyses alongside a few other experiments on the Moon’s Surface. According to ISRO, the mission Chandrayaan 2 will also foster the findings of Chandrayaan 1.

The mission is being considered as a challenge as no space agency has ever thought of exploring the South polar region of the Moon. Here are the reasons why Chandrayaan 2 is on a mission to explore the Moon’s South Polar region and why its a huge challenge:

1. The Dark Side of the moon – the importance of exploring Moon’s South pole

Due to the moon’s axis, few regions on the south pole remains forever dark especially the craters and have higher chances of containing water. The bottom of the polar craters of remain under shadows permanently because of the low angular tilt of the axis (1.54-degree tilt in comparison to earth’s 23.5 degrees). Hence the temperature at the poles remains frigid, hitting as low as -248 degree Celcius. That makes it among the lowest temperatures in the Solar System. The sunlight strikes at very low angles in the polar regions and thus the craters might have never received sunlight, thereby increasing the chances of presence of ice on such surfaces.

The moon’s south pole is especially interesting because the lunar surface area at the south pole of the Moon that remains in shadow is much larger than that of its north pole. This increases the possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it.

Also read: Chandrayaan 2 launch date and time: When and where to watch ISRO’s mega event

2. Totally Uncharted Territory

No one has ever explored the South polar region of the Moon. In all the space missions, be it manned or unmanned, no country has ever attempted to land a spacecraft in the polar regions of the moon. The south polar region is far from the equator and it is totally uncharted till now. This could give India a lead in space exploration on an international level. The south pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.

Earlier ISRO informed that the spacecraft will carry 13 different scientific instruments to study the moon. Among these will be, 8 remote-observation payloads on the orbiter, 3 will be on the lander and 2 will be on the rover. ISRO is expecting the lander to do a soft touchdown at the Moon’s polar surface on September 6th or 7th. The cost of the project is Rs 978 crore and contains three modules along with a launcher. The launcher that will be used is The GSLV Mk-III and is India’s most powerful launcher to date. The modules include the orbiter, the Lander named Vikram and the Rover called Pragyan.

According to K Sivan, Chairman at ISRO, the final 15-minutes of the descent operation will be the most terrifying. A ToI report quoted Sivan as saying that during the last 15-minutes of Vikram’s final descent and soft landing will be difficult as a mission of this scale has never been attempted before.

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