BENGALURU: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman K Sivan on Saturday announced that the “90-95% of the Chandrayaan-2 mission objectives have already been achieved” and that “we should not call the mission a failure or setback”.
Talking to TOI after the landing operation, the Isro chief said, “The orbiter will have a lifespan of over seven and a half years, not just one year as being said earlier, as there is a lot of fuel left. And there is a possibility of finding Vikram lander from sophisticated instruments on board the orbiter.”
Sivan said, “The dual-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on board the orbiter will be able to penetrate and see up to 10 metres of the sub-surface of the polar region and help us find water ice. Its high-resolution camera can zoom up to 30cm, that is also being a first in the world. And its advanced IR spectrometer (meant to measure spectral components of a physical phenomenon) can work up to 5 micron, instead of 3 micron that earlier ones had. These payloads will give a lot of data.”Clarifying that the landing operation was just a “demonstration, which we could not achieve successfully”, Sivan said this “mission won’t delay any other mission and that we had a lot of missions in hand”.
A senior scientist told TOI “There is a possibility of finding Vikram lander with the orbiter within three days. This is because an orbiter takes three days to come to the same point. We know the landing site but as Vikram deviated from the path at the last minute during the final descent, we have to look in an area of 10 x 10 km area from three payloads SAR, IR spectrometer and camera. We have to do high-resolution imaging of the area to find Vikram.”
The scientist also clarified that “If Vikram has crashlanded and turned into pieces, then the chances of finding it will be bleak. However, if the component is intact, the high-resolution imaging will capture the image of Vikram.”
The orbiter is loaded with eight payloads which will map entire Moon. Of the eight, IR spectrometer, two powerful cameras and dual-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are very crucial to the mission.”
Former Isro scientist M Annadurai, who was the project director of the 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission, told TOI that the orbiter does many things which the lander and the rover couldn’t have. “While the rover’s research area would have been 500 metres, the orbiter will map the entire Moon from an altitude of about 100km.
Onboard equipment such as IR spectrometer, two cameras and dual-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) have much to do.” The IR spectrometer covers the entire Moon to study what three payloads of Chandrayaan-1 – India’s hyperspectral imager, Germany’s near infrared spectrometer and Nasa’s moon mineralogy mapper – have done,” explained Annadurai, who was the director of Bengaluru-based U R Rao Satellite Centre.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter’s terrain mapping camera has a spatial resolution of 5m and a swath of 20 km, which will help Isro prepare 3D maps of the lunar surface. The high-resolution camera has a better resolution to pick up details as small as 30cm (Chandrayaan-1 camera had 1m resolution). Annadurai said the “work on Chandrayaan-2 started in 2009 itself” and therefore a lot of effort had gone in developing these low-cost but hi-tech payloads, which will definitely help discover “new things on Moon”.
The south pole is supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that will cast light on the history of Moon and fossil records of the earlier solar system. The orbiter is also likely to look for a large cave, whose images were captured by Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, that could serve as a settlement for future manned missions. This is because it is very difficult for humans to survive on the surface due to hazardous radiation, micro-metoritic impacts, extreme temperature and dust storms. Chandrayaan-1’s stereoscope imagery suggests the cave, uncollapsed remains of an ancient lava tube, is located 160 metre below the lunar surface and is 2km long and 360 metre wide.
“Such a lava tube could be a potential site for future human habitability on the moon for future human missions and scientific explorations, providing a safe environment (to humans)…,” a team of scientists led by A S Arya of Isro’s Space Applications Centre had reported in its findings.
Orbiter will cast light on Earth-Moon relations and their origin:
Earth and Moon don’t just share a history, they also affect each other on a daily basis. Earth’s gravitational pull is the reason we only see one side of Moon, creating a phenomenon called tidal locking. Just as a tightrope walker uses their stick to keep balance, Moon’s gravity also offsets Earth’s oblique orbit.
Earth’s gravity causes tremors and other seismic activities on Moon — called moon-quakes — and even shifts physical structures on its surfaces. High and low tides are aligned with the pull Moon exerts on Earth at its apogee and perigee. The origin of Earth and Moon is supposed to be linked. if Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter makes revelation about Moon’s origin, it will also cast light about our planet’s origin and evolution.
In Video:For the next 14 days will try to contact the Lander, says Isro chief