Chandrayaan-2: Moon’s South Polar Region ISRO (Photo Credit: ISRO)
Chandrayaan-2 is India's second Moon mission after Chandrayaan-1 and it will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on-board GSLV Mk-III on July 15, 2019. The historic Chandrayaan 2 mission will target a completely unexplored section of the Moon that is, its “South Polar region - Aitken Basin”.
By conducting topographical studies and mineralogical analyses alongside a few other experiments on the Moon’s Surface, the ISRO’s ambitious mission aims to get a better understanding of the Moon’s origin and its evolution. According to ISRO, the mission Chandrayaan 2 will also nurture the findings of Chandrayaan 1.
It is to be noted that the mission is being considered as a challenge since no space agency has ever explored the South Polar Region of the Moon.
Here’s the reasons why Chandrayaan 2 is on a mission to explore the Moon’s South Polar Region and why it’s a huge challenge:
The Dark Side of the moon & importance of exploring it:
The far side of the Moon is the hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from Earth. It has one of the largest craters in the Solar System, the South Pole–Aitken basin. As the craters remain dark, they 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. Hence the temperature at the poles remains frigid, hitting as low as -248 degree Celsius. 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 more interesting as 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.
Totally Unexplored Territory:
No space agency has ever explored the South Polar Region of the Moon. So far in all the space missions, no country has ever attempted to land a spacecraft in the polar regions of the moon. As the South Polar Region is far, it is totally unexplored till now which 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.
According to ISRO, Chandrayaan 2 will carry 13 different scientific instruments to study the Moon. 8 of this will be a remote-observation payloads on the orbiter, 3 will be on the lander and 2 will be on the rover. 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.
K Sivan, Chairman at ISRO, said to the TOI that the minutes of the descent operation will be the most terrifying. “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,” TOI quoted K Sivan.
Interestingly, India will be the fourth nation after the US, Russia and China, if succeeds in a soft landing on the Moon. Earlier, Israel failed in its maiden attempt to soft land on the moon through a Beresheet spacecraft, which crashed after reaching very close to the lunar surface.