By Jyotsna Pandit
ISRO is taking extreme caution, going into the most minute and intricate details of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which became starkly evident in the wee hours of July 15, when the mission was originally scheduled to be launched at 2.51 am. When a technical snag was detected just 56 minutes before the take-off, ISRO decided to postpone the launch for a week. This was a very mature move by the Chandrayaan-2 team, as the mission could have been a disaster had this technical snag not been discovered on time or had the Chandrayaan-2 been given the green signal to take-off after hastily rectifying the snag at the last moment. Yesterday the epic moment happened with the launch of Chandrayaan-2 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2.43 pm. Chandrayaan-2, as the name suggests, is India’s second planned mission to the moon. The first lunar mission was launched way back in 2009, which assisted in confirming the presence of water/hydroxyl on the moon. This second lunar mission will consist of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. While the orbiter will do the mapping of the surface of moon from an altitude of 100 km, the lander’s objective is to make a soft landing on the surface of moon and then send out the rover. As per ISRO, “Chandrayaan- 2 will boldly go where no country has ever gone before, the Moon’s South Polar Region. Through this effort, the aim is to improve our understanding of the moon, discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole. These insights and experiences aim at a paradigm shift in how lunar expeditions are approached for years to come propelling further voyages into the farthest frontiers.” What makes the second lunar mission even more special is that India would become the first country to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s South Polar Region. Secondly, this would be the first Indian expedition to attempt this soft landing on the lunar surface and explore the terrain with home-grown technology.
The reason why Moon’s South Pole is an interesting place for ISRO to dedicate its mission, is that the lunar surface area that remains in the shadows, is much larger than that at the North Pole. In addition, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early solar system. More than the stated objectives are many unstated ones, which are even more important to ponder over. A successful lunar mission to the Moon’s South Pole will boost India’s image as a space power worldwide. This would help ISRO in its next big mission, i.e. Mission Gaganyaan in 2022, which is the country’s most ambitious mission ever to send humans into space.
Chandrayaan-2’s success will energise all players, which include the government, industry, media and academic institutions working on outer space. It attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of the space, stimulate advancement of technology, promote global alliances and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists. All major players in the arena of outer space would be following the Lunar Mission-2 with great attention. Space is considered the final frontier for humanity and most potent and vital asset for any nation state to assert and showcase its power. The next decade, which is just six months away from now, would be a definitive period for numerous space missions, with more countries becoming part of the global space race. India wants to be one of the frontrunners in this race, which would be a projection of its own national power. To conclude, mission Chandrayaan-2 is coming at a very critical juncture in both India’s as well as ISRO’s history. The success of this mission will open many doors in the future for the Indian space programme. (INAV)