Chandrayaan 2 rover: Why Pragyan will take over 3 hours to roll out after Vikram lander touches down on Moon

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Updated: September 7, 2019 1:38:24 AM

Chandrayaan 2 rover news: Pragyan, the mighty rover that forms the most crucial element of the ISRO's Moon mission, will roll out of the Vikram lander over 3 hours after the soft landing.

Pragyan, Pragyan rover, chandrayaan 2 rover nameChandrayaan 2: ISRO is taking precautions and will allow for the lunar dust to settle before the Pragyan rover can exit the Vikram lander.

Chandrayaan 2 rover news: Pragyan, the mighty rover that forms the most crucial element of the ISRO’s Moon mission, will roll out of the Vikram lander over 3 hours after the soft landing. ISRO’s Vikram lander will attempt to soft-land on the Moon’s South pole between 1:40 AM and 1:55 AM on September 7. The entire descent and landing process by Vikram lander has been described as “terrifying 15 minutes” by the ISRO chief K Sivan. Interestingly, even after the Vikram lander touches down on the lunar surface, the Pragyan rover housed inside it will take over 3 hours to finally come out.

Pragyan rover roll out time, facts and challenges

Pragyan, the rover’s name, means wisdom in Sanskrit. The final roll out of Chandrayaan 2’s rover, Pragyan, will not take place immediately after Vikram’s touch down because of the complex nature of the landing process. According to ISRO, the soft landing on the moon is the “most challenging part of the mission”. The space agency has said that the variation in local gravity has to be factored into the lunar descent trajectory. Not only that, the onboard NGC and propulsion system have to work in unison, autonomously and automatically for a successful landing.

Watch video – Chandrayaan 2’s Pragyan rover is very special! How it will complete ISRO’s moon mission

The lunar surface is covered with craters, rocks, and dust. The entire landing process, involving a drastic reduction in Vikram lander’s speed, the rough and fine braking procedure, and the firing of on-board engines close to the lunar surface will cause backward flow of hot gases along with the lunar dust. Not only is the lunar dust minuscule, hard, barbed, and jagged, its negative charge makes it stick to most surfaces. This can cause a disruption in deployment mechanisms, solar panel performance, and NGC sensor performance. Hence, ISRO is taking precautions and will allow for the lunar dust to settle before the Pragyan rover can exit the Vikram lander.

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After Vikram’s landing on the Moon surface, there will be a two-hour window of no-action. According to the tentative Chandrayaan-2 mission schedule issued by ISRO, at around 3:53 AM, the Vikram lander’s ramp will be deployed as a first step towards Pragyan’s rollout. Twenty minutes after that, around 4:23 AM, the Pragyan rover will be powered on and 40 minutes after that the solar panel of the rover will be deployed. According to ISRO, around 15 minutes after the solar panel is activated, the Pragyan rover will come out and gently make way to the Moon’s surface, taking around 10 minutes to touch down.

What adds to the complexity of the Chandrayaan 2 mission are the extreme temperature variations and ambient pressure of the lunar surface being a hard vacuum. The lunar surface is an extremely hostile environment for both Vikram lander and Pragyan rover operations. All the best, ISRO!

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