Bengaluru: India may have missed the opportunity to attempt a historic soft landing on the moon, but its Chandrayaan-2 would continue to explore the earth’s only natural satellite with the help of orbiter that remains in orbit around the moon.
The box-shaped orbiter which weighs roughly around 2,379 kgs is currently revolving around the moon, nearly 100 kms above its surface. Out of the total 13 payloads that Chandrayaan-2 carried, as many as seven are onboard the orbiter which is set to collect one of the most crucial data for the mission.
During the next one year, it will continue to collect remote sensing observations that will help the scientists at Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to strengthen their understanding of Earth’s only natural satellite. Lander Vikram was planned to support these observations with data collected from the landing site near the unexplored region of lunar South pole.
The small Terrain Mapping Camera-2 aboard orbiter would help create a high resolution, 3-D map of the lunar surface that will give insights into the origin and evolution of moon over the years.
A major goal of the mission is to study the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface, which is crucial for undertaking future deep space missions. This data would be provided by the soft x-ray spectrometers on the orbiter which will examine the presence of major elements such as Magnesium, Alumnium, Silicon, Iron, Sodium, Titanium and Calcium and help scientists to study the elemental composition of the moon.
The spectrometers would detect these elements by measuring the characteristic X-rays they emit when excited by the solar rays. The Solar X-ray monitor would measure the intensity of these solar radiations reflected off the moon’s surface.
Another payload called the Imaging IR Spectrometer would provide a high resolution quantitative data on the availability of water-ice on the moon, to build on the findings of Chandrayaan-2 which gave the world evidence of presence of water on the moon in 2008.
Apart from seven payloads, it also has one experiment that it will conduct while orbiting around the moon.
The major findings from India's first mission to the moon had come from the orbiter which continued to provide data for almost an year after the launch in October 2008. A lunar impact probe that was part of the mission had just impacted the lunar surface.