A decade since its first attempt at studying the Moon, India’s space agency ISRO has decided to go with a scheduled launch date for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. The mission will now kick off in the first week of October. Earlier, ISRO was to launch the mission on April 23, a little over a month from now.
According to a report by ToI, there are several components to the mission, including an orbiter, rover and lander. The report adds that an ISRO panel including former ISRO chairmen, scientists and IIT professors recommended that the launch be postponed until the completion of necessary tests.
The report quotes ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan as saying, “The original targeted date for the launch was kept on April 23. However, as the ongoing tests for the lunar mission will take 20 more days, the April 23 date could not be met. Therefore the panel decided to defer the launch. ” He explains the finer details behind the rationale of deferring the launch for the lunar mission. According to Sivan, for lunar missions, the launch date cannot be shifted by a few days. The ideal date for a lunar mission launch is a specific date in a month. If there are any delays in the project, the launch needs to be pushed to the next month.
He further explains that the original launch date in April had to be postponed. However, pushing it to any date between May and September brings in impediments in the form of “eclipses and other reasons”. As a result, ISRO would not be able to utilize the much needed full lunar day (14 Earth days) for experiments on the moon.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission comprises an orbiter, lander and rover. While the orbiter is expected to have a mission life of a year, the lander and rover are needed for a 14-15 days period. If all goes well, Chandrayaan-2 will be the first lunar orbiter to land near the lunar south pole, between two craters – Manzimus C and Simpelius N.
In addition to conducting various experiments, the purpose of this lunar mission is to perform on-site chemical analysis of the lunar surface. Data and information retrieved as part of these analyses and experiments will be relayed from the rover to the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and then back to Earth.