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Chandrayaan-2

A mission to the Moon's south pole

Mission lead
ISRO
Launch Date
9-16 July 2019
Destination
Lunar south pole
Current status
Launch preparations

Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian mission to send an orbiter, lander, and rover to the Moon. The 3 vehicles will launch as 1 combined spacecraft to lunar orbit, where the lander, carrying the rover, will touch down on the Moon's south pole. The orbiter will then continue studying the Moon from above. A successful mission would make India just the fourth country to soft-land on the lunar surface.

The mission builds on ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which launched in October 2008 and operated for 10 months. Chandrayaan-2 features improved instruments and new technologies intended for future planetary missions. The orbiter is planned to operate for 2 years, while the lander and rover are expected to survive one lunar daytime period—14 Earth days—their mission ending when night falls.

Chandrayaan-2 Mission Updates
CAD model of Chandrayaan-2, launch configuration

From a presentation by M. Annadurai to the 60th UN COPUOS meeting.

CAD model of Chandrayaan-2, launch configuration
Chandrayaan-2 consists of an orbiter, lander, and small rover. Here, the spacecraft is shown in its launch configuration.

Upcoming events

Past milestones

Landing site

Amitabh et. al (2018) reports two possible landing sites near the Moon’s south pole, an area of interest due to the future possibility of harvesting water ice from permanently shadowed craters. The landing ellipse is 32 x 11 kilometers.

Prime site (designated SLS54): 70.90267 S 22.78110 E
Alternate site (designated ALS01): 67.874064 S, 18.46947 W

Chandrayaan-2 candidate landing sites (wide)

NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University / Edited by Jason Davis

Chandrayaan-2 candidate landing sites (wide)
This wide-angle Moon view shows the prime (right blue dot) and alternate (left blue dot) Chandrayaan-2 landing sites as reported in Amitabh et. al (2018). The landing sites were mapped using LROC Quickmap and are only for estimation purposes.
Chandrayaan-2 candidate landing sites (zoom)

NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University / Edited by Jason Davis

Chandrayaan-2 candidate landing sites (zoom)
This zoomed view of the Moon's South Pole Aiken Basin, as seen from Earth, shows the prime (right blue dot) and alternate (left blue dot) Chandrayaan-2 landing sites as reported in Amitabh et. al (2018). The landing sites were mapped using LROC Quickmap and are only for estimation purposes.

These coordinates were cited again in Sinha et. al (2019), which describes the geology at both sites. However, in April 2019, ISRO chair K. Sivan said the landing site would be at 74 degrees south.

Science goals

Beyond the technical achievement of placing a lander on the Moon and deploying a rover, ISRO hopes to build on the data collected during the Chandrayaan-1 mission using improved instruments. Science goals include mapping the Moon’s topography, investigating surface mineralogy and elemental abundances, studying the lunar exosphere, and looking for signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.

NASA NSSDCA | Sundararajan (2018)

Spacecraft

Total mass: About 3890 kilograms (we estimate this is wet mass). Masses reported over time: 3850 kilograms, 3890 kilograms, 3320 kilograms.

Orbiter

Chandrayaan-2 orbiter

ISRO

Chandrayaan-2 orbiter
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, as shown in a 2017 UN COPUOS presentation.

Mass: 2294 kilograms (we estimate this is wet mass, and derived the figure using known masses from other components).

Orbiter instruments

Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2): Used to create a 3D map of the lunar surface using 2 cameras.

Chandra Atmospheric Composition Explorer 2 (ChACE-2): A neutral mass spectrometer to sample atoms in the tenuous atmosphere above the Moon’s polar regions.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR): An L- and S-band radar system used to detect water ice inside permanently shadowed craters, and globally map the thickness and electrical conductivity of the lunar regolith. This will be the first L-band radar mapper to orbit the Moon.

Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS): Used to map the abundance of rock-forming elements Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti and Fe on the lunar surface.

Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM): Supports orbiter’s CLASS instrument and observes solar X-rays.

Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS): Characterizes and maps the abundance of hydroxyl (OH) and molecular water in the Moon's polar regions. Sensitive to light with wavelengths between 0.8 and 5 microns.

Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC): Perform high-resolution imaging of the landing site prior to the lander mission.

Lander

Chandrayaan-2 lander deploying rover

ISRO

Chandrayaan-2 lander deploying rover

Mass: 1571 kilograms (we estimate this is wet mass, and derived the figure by adding 100 kilograms of mass growth to an original NASA amount). The lander is named Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of India's space program. It is equipped with 4, 800N engines and a series of 50N attitude control thrusters.

Lander instruments

Seismometer (ILSA): Records moonquakes to study lunar core; may offer new insights due to location at south pole.

Thermal probe (ChaSTE): Measures temperature and electrical conductivity 100 millimeters beneath surface.

Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA-Langmuir Probe): A Langmuir probe to study plasma density in the thin atmosphere near the Moon's surface.

Radio occultation experiment: Used to study how lunar tides affect Earth's atmosphere.

Imaging system

The lander will also be equipped with a NASA-provided retroreflector.

Rover

Chandrayaan-2 rover

ISRO

Chandrayaan-2 rover
A model of the small (25-kilogram) Chandrayaan-2 rover being tested for operations under lunar gravity. The cables atop the rover connect to a large helium-filled balloon that counteracted most of the test rover's weight.

Mass: 25 kilograms. The solar-powered rover, which is named Pragyan (wisdom), has 6 wheels and uses a radio antenna to communicate with the lander, which relays data to Earth.

Rover instruments

Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS): Measures the chemical composition of the lunar surface.

Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope (APXS): Determines the elemental composition of lunar rocks and soil.

Imaging system (front cameras only)

Spacecraft section sources: The Planetary Report, TPS blogs, NSSDCA, Gunter's, UN COPUOS presentation (2017)

Getting to the Moon

Chandrayaan-2 will launch aboard a GSLV Mark III rocket into an initial elliptical orbit. That orbit has previously been reported as:

The spacecraft will continue raising its orbit around Earth until it can be captured by the Moon’s gravity with a lunar orbit insertion burn. That orbit will initially be elliptical, until Chandrayaan-2 lowers itself to a circular, 100-kilometer-high orbit. There, the lander will separate and fly on its own before deorbiting and landing.

External resources and key papers

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