India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon Launch: When and How to Watch

Only three nations have successfully landed spacecraft on the moon — the United States and the Soviet Union during the space race of the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently, China. (An Israeli nonprofit attempted to send a lander named Beresheet to the moon earlier this year, but it crashed.)

If all goes well on Monday, and in the weeks ahead, India will become No. 4 with Chandrayaan-2, a homegrown mission to the moon that aims to demonstrate the technological achievements of one of the largest countries on Earth.

Liftoff is scheduled for Monday at 2:51 a.m. local time from the Satish Dhawan Space Center along the southeastern coast of India. In the United States, it will still be Sunday — 5:21 p.m. Eastern time.

The spacecraft is on top of India’s most powerful rocket, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle — Mark III.

The spacecraft consists of multiple pieces:

  • an orbiter;

  • a lander named Vikram, after Vikram A. Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space program;

  • and, a six-wheeled rover named Pragyan, which means “wisdom” in Sanskrit.

In September, the lander (which will be carrying the rover) will detach from the orbiter and head to a landing site near the South Pole of the moon.

The rover carries a couple of instruments to measure the composition of moon rocks and soil. The lander carries instruments to measure moonquakes, temperatures a couple of inches into the soil and charged particles from the sun in the extremely tenuous lunar atmosphere.

The lander and rover are expected to operate just a couple of weeks.

The orbiter carries a suite of instruments, including cameras and spectrometers, and is designed to operate at least a year.

It is Hindi for “moon vehicle.”

As the 2 in Chandrayaan-2 indicates, India has already sent one spacecraft to the moon. The orbiter Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, operated for 10 months and helped confirm the presence of water ice in the lunar craters.

Sahred From Source link Science

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