Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon.
Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.
The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole.
There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.
Accordingly, Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft land the lander -Vikram and rover- Pragyan in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south.
What makes Chandrayaan-2 special?
First space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon's south polar region, first Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology, first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology, fourth country ever to soft land on the lunar surface.
What the Orbiter, Lander and rover will do?
At the time of launch, the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter will be capable of communicating with Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu as well as the Vikram Lander. The mission life of the Orbiter is one year and it will be placed in a 100X100 km lunar polar orbit. The Lander of Chandrayaan 2 is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover. The Lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface. Chandrayaan 2's Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m (½-a-km) and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander.
The lander and the rover will carry out experiments to try and find water on the lunar surface and map for chemicals and topography. Experiments on Lunar Topography, Seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-phyiscal characteristics of top soil and the composition of the tenous lunar atmosphere will also be held.
The rover will carry out in situ experiments, to explore for sub surface minerals including Helium and for presence of water and ice. It is also expected to send back images and data to earth, every 15 minutes. It will help in the understanding the topography of the moon, and unravel the mystery of using water fit for humans and also use H2 from the water below the surface.
What is the project cost?
In 2008 when it was approved, the project cost was estimated at around Rs 425 crore, excluding the launch costs and cost of the lander as Russia was supposed to provide the lander. However, in 2013 Russia pulled out and Isro
decided to build the lander itself. Now the project cost estimated to be around Rs 978 crore, nearly Rs 603 crore will be towards satellite development and the balance Rs 375 crore for the GSLV MK-III rocket. Nearly 60 per cent of the satellite cost spent on the industry and nearly 80 per cent when it comes to the rocket.
While nearly 500 industries have contributed to develop the rocket GSLV-MKIII, around 120 industries have contributed to develop 3.8 tonne satellite and more than 15 academia instutitions, including IISC, IITs have contributed to Chandrayaan-2 making it as “National Effort”, said Sivan.