Chandrayaan-2: What are Science experiments planned?

the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk 3) or "Bahubali" is seen in assembly building ahead of the launch of Chandrayaan-2, in Sriharikota. The space mission, which aims to place a robotic rover on the moon, is set to be launched on July 15, 2019. PTI photo

After reaching the Moon, India's Chandrayaan-2 is programmed to carry out a series of scientific experiments that would not only seek to provide vital clues to India's planned mission to the Venus but also come up with useful information required for mining an asteroid or setting up of colonies on the lunar surface in distant future.

India's second moon mission was scheduled to be launched in the wee hours of Monday (2.51 am) from the Sriharikota spaceport atop a 12-story rocket - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III, which is India's most powerful rocket to date. The launch had to be called off due to a technical snag observed in the launch vehicle system.

The ISRO lunar craft is slated to undertake a journey of 3.84 lakh km in 53 days and make a soft landing near the lunar South Pole.

The orbiter of the spacecraft carries eight payloads while there are three in the lander Vikram and two in the rover Pragyaan that will come out of Vikram's belly after the touchdown and roll over the lunar surface.

The experiments have three broad scientific objectives – to have a better understanding of the rocks and what lies beneath the lunar surface; a clearer idea about the presence of gases, if any, in the atmosphere and try to make an estimate of the lunar resources and topology.

“The insight can provide us with useful information while planning the Venus mission. We do have plans for such a mission. It may be an orbiter as landing on the Venus surface may not be possible with a surface temperature of nearly 700 degrees Celsius and acidic environment,” astrophysicist Somak Raychaudhury, director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune told DH.

Chandrayaan-2, he explained, was far more complex and scientifically challenging than Chandrayaan-1 that made the breakthrough discovery on the presence of water on the moon in the past. “While Chandrayaan-1 was a 90% technical mission, Chandrayaan-2 is 70% technical and 30% scientific mission,” he said.

The payloads include several types of spectrometers and spectroscopes, solar X-ray monitor, synthetic aperture radar, atmospheric compositional explorer, instruments to measure temperature gradient and thermal conductivity of the lunar surface and a seismometer.

Redundancy has been built in while selecting the instruments so that even if one of them doesn't work, similar data can flow in from other equipment.

“Its far more difficult and complex mission than Chandrayaan-1. In the last 50 years, there were lots of studies based on the lunar mission data and the moon rocks that were brought back, but all such missions had a finite geographical coverage. There are still mysteries on the moon but you can't forecast scientific discoveries,” said Amitabha Ghosh, chair, science operations working group, Mission Operations, NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

“The inputs from Chandryaan-2 experiments would come handy if in the future we plan to set up an outpost on the moon or try to mine an asteroid – two long term goals of the space scientists,” said Raychaudhury.

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