Chandrayaan 2 is India’s ambitious lunar mission to attempt to go where no-one has gone, the south polar region of the moon. It is launched by the ISRO- Indian Space Research Organization that pursues space science research and exploration of planets. The moon is the closest cosmic body where space expeditions can be documented. Only the U.S., the Soviet Union and China have achieved a soft landing on the moon earlier and this expedition will be another feather on the cap for humanity.
On 22 October, 2008, Chandrayaan 1 was launched and it confirmed the presence of water molecules on the moon’s surface. Chandrayaan 2 aims to follow up on this discovery along with conducting topographical studies and several other experiments on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan 2 was carried to its designated orbit by the GSLV Mk-III (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III. It is the most powerful launcher that India has ever built capable of launching satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. Chandrayaan-2 comprises of three parts- the orbiter, the Lander called Vikram and the indigenous rover called Pragyan. The orbiter has the capacity to communicate both with Vikram Lander and the Indian Deep Space Network. Its mission life is one year. Vikram Lander was designed to soft land on the lunar surface and it is created to function for one lunar day which is 14 earth days. Pragyan rover is a six wheeled robotic vehicle that can travel for 500 meters and is designed to leverage solar energy for its functioning. It is capable of conducting in-situ experiments.
On 22 July, 2019, the mission was launched to the moon. It reached the moon’s orbit on August 20, 2019 and began positioning itself to land Vikram Lander. The lander and rover were scheduled to land at 1:55 a.m. on September 7, 2019. Between 1:38-1:49 a.m. the lander began to descent and rough braking reduced its velocity. Fine braking began at an altitude of 5 km and after 2 a.m. scientists realized that something was wrong. The lander was on track until an altitude of 2.1 km and then communication was lost. The ISRO chief said that soft landing was a tense affair and the last 15 minutes of the mission were, “15 minutes of terror!”
Latest pictures taken by the orbiter show that Vikram was still on its feet but tilted. Scientists are trying hard to re-establish communication. There are several difficult decisions to make whether to move the orbiter closer and risk it, in an attempt to establish communication. We’re keeping our fingers crossed! Get up, buddy! We’re rooting for you! Even if you don’t, the fact that you reached the surface of the moon makes us proud. You fought all odds and made it there. Success is not always about winning but fighting hard. And you did with everything you had.