When Vikram had to leave his partner with whom he has been travelling so far, the moment must be painful for him, but detaching from the potent arms of him when Chandraayan 2 continued her journey to further explore the mystery of the moon, it was a moment of rejoicing for every Indian.
India’s second lunar expedition Chandrayaan-2 has crossed a very significant milestone this afternoon, with the successful separation of the Lander Vikram from its Orbiter. In a swift action, the scientists of the national space agency ISRO carried out the surgical action at 1315 hrs, to detach the Lander from its mothercraft, the orbiter. In a matter of just a few milliseconds, the operation got over, by cutting the umbilical cord of the Lander with the mother craft. The operation was carried out remotely by the ISRO scientists and engineers from the mission control centre in Bengaluru. Earlier, the high level review committee of the ISRO gave its approval for the crucial separation mission after reviewing all its parameters.
With the separation, the focus has now shifted to navigating the lander module to the lunar South Pole. The module consists of the Lander Vikram and the rover Pragyaan, which are in an integrated form. The ISRO has planned two de-orbit manoeuvres tomorrow and day-after-tomorrow using the propellant on-board the lander. De-orbiting is aimed at nudging the lander to the most optimal path, directed towards the lunar surface, so that it can have a gentle touch down near its South Pole on 7th of September.
The Lander Vikram has been named in honour of the Father of Indian Space Programmes Dr Vikram Sarabhai. The name also means valour, as it is aiming for a territory on the moon where no probe has gone before. It houses in its belly the Rover Pragyan, which it will unleash after reaching its final destination, the lunar South Pole. The Lander Vikram weighs nearly 1.5 tonnes and has the capacity to generate 650-watt power using its solar panels. It has three payloads, including the instrument for studying the lunar seismic activity. Quakes on the moon are said to be caused by the gravitational pull of the earth. More insights into it can be expected from the readings of the Lander of Chandrayaan-2.
The moon’s thermal conductivity will be observed using the Chandra’s Surface Thermo-Physical Experimental Device on the Lander. The Langmuir Probe atop it will conduct ionosphere studies on the lunar surface, as said by the ISRO in its earlier release. The mission life of the Lander and the Rover is a lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days on the earth. The Lander also has the required propellant fuels to carry out minor manoeuvres to de-orbit it on its way to the lunar surface.
AIR correspondent reports that it is yet another proud moment in the epoch-making journey of Chandrayaan-2, as the surgical operation to detach the Lander module from on top of the Orbiter got over in a very smooth and hassle-free way.
The ISRO scientists say the operation is almost similar to the separation of satellites from the rockets during launch missions. This is the first time an indigenously made Lander has entered deep inside the atmosphere of the moon and is moving independently of the mothercraft, the Orbiter. The Orbiter has already got stabilized in its final destination around the moon, where it will move on for over a year, mapping the lunar terrain and observing its exosphere and the ionosphere. However, the focus is now on the lander, as the ultimate aim of the mission hinges on its soft-landing in the early morning on the 7th of this month. The mission is all set to propel India into the hall of fame of the nations who have soft-landed their probes on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to facilitate a more detailed understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 has three modules namely Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The Rover is housed inside the Lander. The mission of the lander is to soft-land on the lunar South Pole and to safely unleash the rover. The weight of the Lander is one thousand 471 kilogram and rover is 27 kilogram. The Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan. It can travel up to 500 meter and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander. The Rover will carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of one lunar day, which is equal to 14 days of the earth. Instruments are also mounted on Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments. The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-2 include studying mineralogy and chemical composition of lunar soil, to search for water or ice in the near-South Pole of the moon, examining its atmosphere, studying lunar seismic activities and to carry out mapping of the moon using high resolution cameras.