Chandrayaan 2: ISRO releases first pictures of orbiter and lander

The first glimpse of the lander and the orbiter. Image credit Tech2

The first glimpse of the lander and the orbiter. Image credit Tech2

Unveiling the spacecraft, ISRO chairman K. Sivan said Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on 15 July at 2.15 am from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

While the launch itself will be subject to weather conditions on that day, the announcement hopefully means the delays and deadline postponements are finally at end.

Sivan also unveiled the official page for the mission.

The landing on the moon near the South Pole, an uncharted territory so far, would be on September 6 or 7, Sivan told reporters here, as the Indian space agency is all set to embark on its most complex mission. The rover is housed inside the lander.

Fifteen minutes later, the Chandrayaan 2 stack will be placed in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth.

During the next 16 days, there will be five burns using propellants. Of the 14 payloads which Chandrayaan-2 will be carrying to the Moon, 13 are indigenous and one "passive payload" of Nasa.

"This 15 minutes is going to be terrifying to all of us not only people from ISRO, but for entire India, because the space agency has never undertaken such type of complex flight". The Chandrayaan-2 mission is estimated to cost about $87 million. It is named Vikram for Vikram Sarabhai, the organisation's founder.

The briefing included the scientific objectives, challenges and benefits of the mission.

Lander would soft land on the moon at a predetermined site and deploy the Rover.

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The latest lunar mission has seen several delays as experts suggested modifications to the orbit, the configuration, and the design of the lander of the mission. The GSLV rocket cost Rs 375 crore and almost 500 industries were involved in its production.

The total mission cost is thus Rs 978 crore, up from the Rs 800 crore reported in 2018. From its launch to the soft landing, the entire mission is set to take about 58 days. However, Russia pulled out in 2013 and ISRO agreed to build the lander itself. The duration of mission is 15 earth days or one lunar day.

Chandrayaan-2 will be the country's second lunar mission.

The Orbiter will be orbiting around the moon in 100 kmorbit, Sivan said.

For the mission, Chandrayaan 2's payload will have 14 instruments.

The scientific payloads on board Orbiter, Lander and Rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.

"From the science point of view, the south pole is under shadow region more than North Pole, so because of this special aspect of south pole, water is expected to be more there and also more minerals are expected to be there", he added. The NASA experiment is reportedly a small retroreflector that will help measure the distance between Earth and the Moon with greater precision.

Chandrayaan 2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan 1 mission successfully launched about 10 years ago. The mission was created to last for two years but failed after 10 months. There will eight instruments on the orbiter however, there are no specific details of the instruments that it will be carrying along.

A month after launch, it shot an impact probe onto the lunar surface and kicked up some soil, which was then chemically analysed. The presence of water would be invaluable as missions advance to the next phase: building a station for mission crews.

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