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article imageSpace 2018 — India's ambitious Chandrayaan 2 Mission to the moon

By Karen Graham     Jan 1, 2018 in Technology
2018 is looking to be an exciting year for international space exploration. In addition to NASA and commercial projects, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch its Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission in March.
Chandrayaan means Moon vehicle in Sanskrit and Chandrayaan-2 is India's second exploration mission after the famous Chandrayaan-1 launched in October 2008. Where Chandrayaan-1 was primarily a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan 2 will be launched using a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II) which includes a lunar orbiter, lander, and rover, all made in India.
The March launch will be historic for a number of reasons. It has been four years since any country attempted a lunar mission. In 2013, China successfully landed the unmanned ‘Yutu’ rover for a month-long walk. And, it should be noted that the United States has been the only country to put a man on the moon, with the last man on the moon being NASA astronaut Gene Cernan in 1972.
The Chandrayaan-1 launcher  ISRO s PSLV-C11  is an upgraded version of the Polar Satellite Launch Ve...
The Chandrayaan-1 launcher, ISRO's PSLV-C11, is an upgraded version of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). It is visible here on the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.
Successful launch of Chandrayaan-1
Chandrayaan-1 was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was launched Satish Dhawan Space Centre, about 80 km (50 mi) north of Chennai in October 2008 and operated until August 2009, although it was supposed to operate for two years.
The launch of Chandrayaan-1 was a major boost to India's space program, as India researched and developed its own technology in order to explore the Moon. Chandrayaan-1 included a lunar orbiter and an impactor.
Unlike a lunar lander, which makes a soft landing and remains functional, an impactor makes a hard landing and is damaged or destroyed, ceasing to function after reaching the surface. When a high-velocity impact is planned not for just achieving the surface but for the study of consequences of an impact, the spacecraft is called an impactor.
Diagram of the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft
Diagram of the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft
After a year, the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter started suffering several major technical issues, including the failure of the star sensors and poor thermal shielding. It stopped sending radio signals on August 28, 2009. On July 2, 2016, NASA used ground-based radar systems to relocate Chandrayaan-1 in its lunar orbit, more than seven years after it shut down.
A short but successful mission
The Chandrayaan-1 mission had specific areas of study. One focus was on getting high-resolution mineralogical and chemical imaging of the north- and the south-polar region which are in permanent shadows. Along with the imaging, there was a search for surface and sub-surface water or ice.
The mineral content on the lunar surface was made using the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA instrument on board the orbiter. The C1XS or X-ray fluorescence spectrometer covering 1–10 keV, mapped the abundance of several minerals, including magnesium, silica, calcium, and iron, among others. This instrument was the result of a collaboration between Rutherford Appleton laboratory, U.K, ESA, and ISRO.
These images show a very young lunar crater on the side of the Moon that faces away from Earth  as v...
These images show a very young lunar crater on the side of the Moon that faces away from Earth, as viewed by Chandrayaan-1's NASA Moon Mineralogy Mapper equipment.
The Mini-SAR was designed, built and tested for NASA by a large team that included the Naval Air Warfare Center, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, with outer support from ISRO.
Mini-SAR was the active Synthetic Aperture Radar system to search for lunar polar ice, water-ice. Another instrument, the RADOM-7, Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences mapped the radiation environment around the Moon.
The orbiter completed 3,000 orbits acquiring 70,000 3-dimensional images of the lunar surface. Some of these images have a resolution of down to 5 meters (16 feet), providing a sharp and clear picture of the Moon's surface, The Moon Mineralogy Mapper has confirmed the magma ocean hypothesis, meaning that the Moon was once completely molten.
Chandrayaan-2 rover
Chandrayaan-2 rover
India’s Chandrayaan 2 Mission
The Chandrayaan-2 mission will consist of three vehicles, an orbiter craft to hover above the moon’s surface, a rover, and a lander to facilitate the landing of the rover safely on the moon's surface. The launch is scheduled for sometime in March 2018 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island.
According to ISRO, this mission will use and test various new technologies and conduct new experiments. The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will perform an on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.
The orbiter will stay in orbit around the moon at an altitude of 100 km (62 miles) above the surface. There will be five instruments on board, three of them new and two of them improved versions of instruments flown on Chandrayaan-1. The Orbiter High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) will conduct high-resolution observations of the landing site before the separation of the lander from the orbiter.
The lander being used in this mission will be making a soft landing to deploy the rover. The lander itself will not be conducting any tests. For a soft landing to be possible, the team identified methods as well as the associated technologies including a high-resolution camera, navigation camera, hazard avoidance camera, altimeter, velocity meter, accelerometer, and the software needed to run these components.
The rover is actually a very small vehicle, weighing about 20 kilograms (44 pounds), but with a lot of capabilities. Operating on solar power, the rover will move on wheels on the lunar surface, perform on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the orbiter above, which will relay it to the Earth station.
The rover has a stereoscopic camera-based 3D vision, giving ground control a 3-D view of the lunar surface, The rover will have six wheels, each driven by an independent electric motor. Four of the wheels will also be capable of independent steering. A total of 10 electric motors will be used for traction and steering. The rover's payload also includes a Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and an Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope.
This will be an exciting story to follow going into the new year, along with some other space stories coming up very soon.
More about lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, Indian space research organisation, space 2018, Technology
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