India is looking forward to becoming the fourth country to touch down on the lunar surface after the United States, Russia, and China on July 15, 2019. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Mission) is scheduled to take off at around 2:15 am from Sriharikota and will make a soft landing near the lunar south pole by September 6 or 7. The lunar South Pole is one of the uncharted parts of the moon and India will be the first-ever country to conduct the experiment on the lunar pole. Chandrayaan-2 encompasses an orbiter, a lander (Vikram), and a rover (Pragyan).
The transportation of the Chandrayaan-2 has been made possible by the latest Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV Mk III) rocket, that will carry the 2,379 kg Chnadrayaan mission. It can generate power of up to 1000 W with the help of its solar arrays. The lander (Vikram) solely weighs around 1,471 kg and can generate 650 W of power.
GSLV Mk III can carry and place a 4,000 kg satellite in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, situated at a height of about 42,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.
Vikram will make a soft landing close to the south pole of the Moon, which will later release the six-wheeled vehicle, Pragyan, to study the lunar surface. It weighs around 27 kg, runs around 50 W of power and can travel 500 m at a speed of 1cm/sec.
The landing site for the Chandrayaan-2 rover is expected to be close to that of China’s Chang’e-4. The landing site is expected to take place between the two craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N near the southern pole of the moon.
The entire mission costs a whopping Rs 978 crore, including Rs 603 crore for the orbiter, lander, rover, navigation and ground support network and Rs 375 crore for the heavy rocket.
India is planning to look out for signs of water and helium-3 on the surface of the moon. The isotope is so abundant on the moon that it could meet global energy demands for 250 years.