Chandrayaan-2 orbiter 2 years, ISRO commemorates

Chennai: India’s prestigious second lunar Mission Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter around the lunar orbit completed two years on Monday.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) commemorated the occasion by organising a Lunar Science Workshop-2021 and Release of Chandrayaan-2 data by its Chairman Dr K Sivan.

“To commemorate the completion of two years of operation of Chandrayaan-2 orbiter around the lunar orbit. Chandrayaan-2 data product and science documents were released by the ISRO Chairman along with data from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter payloads”, ISRO said.

The eight payload onboard Chandrayaan-2 are conducting scientific observations of the Moon by remote sensing and in-situ techniques.

The science data are being made available for analysis by academia and institutes, for a greater participation to bring out more science from Chandrayaan-2 mission.

The two-day Lunar Science Workshop is being live-streamed on ISRO’s website and Facebook page, for effectively reaching the students, academia and institutes, to engage the wisdom of the scientific community to analyse Chandrayaan-2 data. The science results from the eight payloads will be presented by the scientists in this workshop.

In addition to the science results, there will be lectures on the Chandrayaan-2 mission, tracking, operations, and data archival aspects as well.

Along with the scientists from ISRO/DOS, there will also be lectures on lunar science to be delivered by scientists from IISER, Kolkata, IISc, Bangalore, and IIT Roorkee.

Chandrayaan-2 was the second lunar exploration mission of ISRO. It consists of a lunar orbiter, and also included the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan lunar rover, all of which were developed in India.

The main scientific objective is to map and study the variations in lunar surface composition, as well as the location and abundance of lunar water.

The spacecraft was launched on its mission to the Moon from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikiota, on 22 July, 2019 by India’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mark III-M1.

The spacecraft reached the Moon’s orbit on 20 August, 2019 and began orbital positioning manoeuvres for the landing of the Vikram lander.

The lander and the rover were scheduled to land on the near side of the Moon, in the south polar region on September six for conducting scientific experiments for one lunar day, which approximates to two Earth weeks.

A successful soft landing would have made India the fourth country after the Luna-9 (Soviet Union), Surveyor 1 (United States) and Chang’e 3 (China) to do so.

However, minutes before touchdown on the hitherto unexplored area of the lunar surface –the South Polar Region–the lander crashed when it deviated from its intended trajectory while attempting to make a softlanding.

Dr Sivan then said ‘Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles).’

“Subsequently the communications from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analysed,” he said in a voice choked with mission. As Dr Sivan turned emotional, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had watched the landing operation, lifted the spirits of the ISRO scientists and said ‘be courageous’. ‘What we achieved is not small,’ Modi said, adding, ‘Wish you all the best.’


NT Bureau