Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
After a successful launch on 22 July, 2019, Chandra-yaan-2 is presently orbiting the moon and is planned to land the Vikram lander near the south pole of the moon on 7 September.
This would be India’s second mission to the moon after the partial success of Chandrayaan-1 during 2008-09, during which a moon impact probe impacted the moon’s surface in a controlled manner, near the moon’s south pole, helping in collection of crucial data. Chandrayaan-1 orbited the moon for almost a year, before all signals were lost.
India is the fourth country in the world to successfully land on the moon, after the USA, Russia and China. Readers are aware that the USA successfully landed many astronauts on the moon, with Neil Armstrong being the first man to step on the moon on 20 July, 1969. It has been a challenge to the scientific world to land and explore the moon. Presently, the NASA is planning unmanned and manned missions to Mars.
Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched from Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) by a geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV Mk III). It consists of a lunar orbiter, the Vikram lander, and a lunar rover named Pragyan, all made in India. The lander and the rover will land on the near side of the moon on 7 September. The wheeled Pragyan rover will move on the lunar surface and will perform on-site chemical analysis for 14 days (one lunar day). It can relay data to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and lander, which were launched together. The lunar orbiter will perform its mission for one year in a lunar orbit of 100 x 100 kms.
After the successful launch, Chandrayaan-2 orbited Earth, with each orbit increasing in size, to gradually exit Earth’s gravity. It carried out precise manoeuvres to exit Earth’s gravity and enter the lunar orbit after the fifth Earth orbit. After entering the lunar orbit, Chandrayaan will gradually decrease its orbit size to reach a height for insertion of the Vikram lander. Presently, Chandrayaan-2 has completed the second lunar orbit.
The Vikram lander will exit the lunar orbiter and carry out a 15-minute descent to carry out a soft landing on the moon’s surface. After landing, the Pragyan rover will exit the Vikram lander and explore the moon’s surface for 14 days (one lunar day). The lunar orbiter, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover are all carrying sophisticated cameras and sensors to transmit back collected data for detailed analysis.
All Indians and many people all over the world are excitedly awaiting the moon landing on 7 Septmber. The event would be a successful technology demonstration of India’s progress in space technology. It would also help in gathering critical data for further exploration in space.
In many ways, it would be a major event for many Arunachalees also. Many Arunachalees worship and follow Donyi Polo – and Polo stands for the moon. That means humans are landing on Polo! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)