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 Pragyan and their functions:
Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
APXS' primary objective is to determine the elemental composition of the Moon's surface near the landing site. It achieves this through X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy technique, where X-ray or alpha particles are used to excite the surface. APXS uses radioactive Curium (244) metal that emits high-energy, alpha particles — as well as X-rays — enabling both X-ray emission spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Through these techniques, APXS can detect all major rock-forming elements such as Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Silica, Calcium, Titanium, Iron, and some trace elements such as Strontium, Yttrium and Zirconium.
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS)
LIBS' prime objective is to identify and determine the abundance of elements near the landing site. It does this by firing high-powered laser pulses at various locations and analysing the radiation emitted by the decaying plasma.