India’s second moon probe, the Chandrayaan 2 has been launched successfully in the second attempt by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its Sriharikota launch base in Andhra Pradesh.
The spacecraft is now en-route a 48-day journey to the Moon with ISRO planning a 7 September soft landing on the lunar surface. ISRO has used its GSLV-MKIII 3-stage cryogenic launcher for the getting the craft to space.
This was ISRO’s second attempt to launch the craft, with the first one on 15 July having been called off due to technical snags. Carrying a lander and a rover, Chandrayaan-2 will trace the same path to the moon as the Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 and will attempt to land the rover at the moon’s freezing-cold south pole.
At the end of its journey, once the module has successfully transferred to the lunar orbit, a series of manoeuvres will be used to progressively lower the altitude of the module and place it in a 100 km circular orbit around the moon. After the module arrives in the 100 km orbit, the lander will separate from the orbiter, which will continue to revolve around the moon.
The Lander module will then attempt a soft landing on the surface, after which the lander will deploy the six-wheel rover to the lunar surface using a ramp. The rover will operate for 14-15 earth days, or one lunar day, on the surface of the moon in a semi-autonomous manner with ISRO exercising partial control from Earth. The orbiter, meanwhile, will continue to revolve around the moon and do so for a year.
If successful, the landing will earn India the tag of the being only the fourth nation in the world to land on the moon successfully.