MOONING THE MOON


The night of 14th-15th July was a much awaited night for Indians. Their Cricket
team had started the world cup campaign almost a month earlier and being the
favorite, was supposed to play finals on 14th July. Later that night in wee
hours of 15th July, ISRO had scheduled for the launch of Chandrayan-2; the
second moon-bound Indian spacecraft. But the night proved to be a
heart-breaking one for Indian. The Indian team lost in semi-finals and did not
make to final (which was a nail biting contest) and Chandrayan 2 launch was
halted due to some malfunction with less than an hour of countdown left.
The Cricket team will
have wait for 4 years to get another chance at contest, but the wait for
Chandrayan 2 launch turned out to be a short one. To understand why ISRO
deserves credit to manage the launch within a week, we need to understand the
concept of “launch window”. Every month there is almost a week window
in which a lunar launch can be scheduled. Other than this monthly window, there
is also a much smaller daily window which is hardly of a few minutes. In July,
the monthly window was from 10th to 16th July, but due to the technical snag,
we missed this. So completing the launch in July on a day when only a few
minutes of daily window is available, requires great accuracy. So when ISRO
completed the launch on 22nd July at 2:43pm, ISRO and the fellow Indians had
every reason to be over the moon before the Chandrayan even reached.
Why it is difficult to go to the moon?
There are many aspects of the flight which make this very
challenging. But let me tell you just one of those- the speed at which
everything moves! 
Our Solar System includes the Earth, Moon, planets, stars and
others, is spinning around the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, at a slow
speed of 7.89 lakh km/ hour. Earth is revolving round the Sun at the speed
of 1, 07,000 km/hours while also circling eastward on its axis at a speed that
is 460 m/ second at the Equator. The Moon speed is slow and is around 3,683
km/hours around the Earth — it also has a slow spin about it axis than the
Earth. 

India’s space achievements and future plan
  • ISRO was formed on 15th august 1969
  • ARYABHTTA (India’s first satellite) was launched
    on April 10, 1975.
  • BHASKARA-I (the first remote sensing satellite) was
    launched on June 7, 1979
  • SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE -3(India’s first experimental
    satellite launch vehicle) takes off, July18, 1980.
  • INSAT-1A launched on April10, 1982.
  • FIRST INDIAN on Space (Rakesh Sharma) April 2,
    1984
  • Launch of CHANDRAYAAN-1 October 22, 2008.
  • Launch of MANGALYAAN November 5, 2013.
  • Launch of GaganYaan- Manned Mission to space 2022
  • Space Station- Later in next decade
After launching
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) also termed, Bahubali,
from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota ISRO envisioned to build a
permanent station in space in few years. With the landing of rover softly on
moon surface India would highlight its technological advances.
How CHANDRAYAN 2 is different from CHANDRAYAN 1

CHANDRAYAN 1
  • Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first mission to moon
  • It had a crash landing on the surface of the moon and
    the cube shaped instrument with the Indian tricolor on all sides was
    destroyed after hitting moon surface. 
  • It was launched by Polar Satellite launch Vehicle,
    PSLV-C11 on October 22, 2008, from Sriharikota.
  • The Chandrayaan-1 discovered traces of water on the
    moon.
  • It also detected Magnesium, Aluminum and Silicon on the
    lunar surface.
  • Global imaging of the moon is another achievement of
    this mission.
  • It made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon.
  • It was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.
 Discovery of Water
Traces was remarkable as earlier moon missions could not confirm this. Presence
of water can tell us more about evolution of life on earth. Further, water can
be used to extract Hydrogen which can be used as fuel for future long-distance
space missions.
But due to calibration
issues ISRO could not exactly confirm this beyond doubt. They had to take help
of instruments put by NASA to confirm the same.

CHANDRAYAN 2
  • IT is a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1,
    comprising an orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyaan).
  • It is first attempt of landing on extraterrestrial
    surface by any country.
  • This is second lunar mission that will attempt to have
    a soft landing on moon.
  • It has been launched by GSLV MK-III M1 launch vehicle.
  • It aims to deploy a rover to study the lunar surface
    which has a mission life of one lunar day which is equal to fourteen earth
    days.
  • It will help to understand the history of the solar
    system as well as of earth.
The Launchpad carries an orbiter, a lunar
lander, a robotic rover and also India’s space dreams.There are two aspects
about the flight of this Chandrayan which makes it unique. First, it will
attempt to make a soft landing o the moon, which is considered very tricky.
Chandrayan-1 had only managed a crash-landing. The country will become the
fourth after USA, Russia and China to have a soft landing a spacecraft on moon.
Second, the spacecraft will attempt to land on the moon’s mysterious and
darkest (South Pole) part. If mission is successful, India will be the second
country to achieve this feat, first being the Chinese Chang’e-4 which managed
to do so earlier this January. All other previous landing, including the
manned missions, has been done in areas close to the Moon’s equator as this
area receives more sunlight, which is required by solar-powered instruments.
The landing date is
scheduled in first week of September. Then the moon-rover will make a soft
landing and function for 1 moon day (14 earth days) during the period it has
access to sunlight. In this period it will attempt to cover a distance of
around 500 meters. This would be a very important achievement given Chang’e 4
managed to cover only around a 100 meter on moon. 
Let’s hope that the
project achieves its due success. That it provides key insights into moon,
formation of earth, source of life etc. It can open a totally new frontier in
space for India and the world. As Neil Armstrong had said 50 years back-
A small step for a man, but a giant leap for the
mankind
.