As India and the world await Chandrayaan-2`s soft-landing on the moon, the significance of landmark space mission has been a point of discussion among the scientist community and social media alike.
ISRO has announced that the soft landing of Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander on the lunar surface is scheduled between 1:30 am to 2:30 am on Saturday, followed by the Rover (Pragyan) roll out between 5:30 am to 6:30 am.
Earlier this week on Monday, the Vikram lander separated from the main spacecraft module and began its descent to the lunar surface. If successful, this would be India's first soft landing on the moon’s surface. Only the US, the former USSR and China have been successful in landing humans or machines on the moon.
Here, we take a look at the list of payloads carried by Chandrayaan-2's Orbiter and their functions:
* Terrain Mapping Camera
TMC 2 is a miniature version of the Terrain Mapping Camera used onboard the Chandrayaan 1 mission. Its primary objective is mapping the lunar surface in the panchromatic spectral band (0.5-0.8 microns) with a high spatial resolution of 5 m and a swath of 20 km from 100 km lunar polar orbit. The data collected by TMC 2 will give us clues about the Moon's evolution and help us prepare 3D maps of the lunar surface.
* Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectometer (CLASS)
CLASS measures the Moon's X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectra to examine the presence of major elements such as Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Titanium, Iron, and Sodium. The XRF technique will detect these elements by measuring the characteristic X-rays they emit when excited by the Sun's rays.
* Solar X-Ray Monitor
XSM observes the X-rays emitted by the Sun and its corona, measures the intensity of solar radiation in these rays, and supports CLASS. The primary objective of this payload is to provide solar X-ray spectrum in the energy range of 1-15 keV. XSM will provide high-energy resolution and high-cadence measurements (full spectrum every second) of solar X-ray spectra as input for analysis of data from CLASS.
* Orbiter High-Resolution Camera
OHRC provides high-resolution images of the landing site — ensuring the Lander's safe touchdown by detecting any craters or boulders prior to separation. The images it captures, taken from two different look angles, serve dual purposes. Firstly, they are used to generate DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) of the landing site. Secondly, they are used for scientific research, post-lander separation. OHRC's images will be captured over the course of two orbits, covering an area of 12 km x 3 km with a ground resolution of 0.32 m.
* Imaging IR Spectrometer
IIRS has two primary objectives:
Global mineralogical and volatile mapping of the Moon in the spectral range of ~0.8-5.0 µm for the first time, at the high resolution of ~20 nm
Complete characterisation of water/hydroxyl feature near 3.0 µm for the first time at high spatial (~80 m) and spectral (~20 nm) resolutions
IIRS will also measure the solar radiation reflected off the Moon's surface in 256 contiguous spectral bands from 100 km lunar orbit.
* Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar
The dual-frequency (L and S) SAR will provide enhanced capabilities compared to Chandrayaan 1's S-band miniSAR in areas such as:
L-band for greater depth of penetration (About 5m — twice that of S-band)
Circular and full polarimetry — with a range of resolution options (2-75 m) and incident angles (9°-35°) — for understanding scattering properties of permanently shadowed regions
The main scientific objectives of this payload are:
High-resolution lunar mapping in the polar regions
Quantitative estimation of water-ice in the polar regions
Estimation of regolith thickness and its distribution
* Chandrayaan 2 Atmospheric Compositional Explorer-2
CHACE 2 will continue the CHACE experiment carried out by Chandrayaan 1. It is a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMA) capable of scanning the lunar neutral exosphere in the mass range of 1 to 300 amu with the mass resolution of ~0.5 amu. CHACE 2's primary objective is to carry out an in-situ study of the composition and distribution of the lunar neutral exosphere and its variability.
* Dual Frequency Radio Science (DFRS) experiment
To study the temporal evolution of electron density in the Lunar ionosphere. Two coherent signals at X (8496 MHz), and S (2240 MHz) band are transmitted simultaneously from satellite, and received at ground based deep station network receivers.