Chandrayaan-2 Landing: ISRO Explains Why World Wants to Reach the Moon's South Pole

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Chandrayaan-2, ISRO’s second unmanned lunar mission, is boldly taking India where no country has gone before – the south pole of the moon. The spacecraft's landing module 'Vikram' will begin its final descent to pull off a historic soft landing on the lunar surface in the early hours of Saturday, as the Indian Space Research Organisation waits for the "terrifying moment".

The Indian space agency has plans to set a rover between two craters on Moon's South Pole, which has not been accessed by any country till date.

Though several countries have made attempts to reach the Lunar South Pole, India might be the first if everything goes as per ISRO's plan. Taking to Twitter, ISRO has explained as to “why the world over, countries, companies and even individuals are turning to moon, vying with each other to fly their flags on the lunar South Pole.”

One of the most major reasons behind it is the fact that the craters on this part have remained “untouched by sunlight for billions of years”.

The infographics, titled 'Why the Moon’s South Pole?' shared by ISRO on its Twitter, said “Its craters have been untouched by sunlight for billions of years - offering an undisturbed record of the solar system's origins.”

According to an estimate by the ISRO, the "permanently shadowed" craters on Moon’s South Pole might be holding nearly 100 million tons of water. The Indian space agency also mentions that the Lunar South Pole's regolith has traces of hydrogen, ammonia, methane, sodium, mercury, and silver, making it "an untapped source of essential resources".

The info graph further mentions that the “elemental and positional advantage” of the Lunar South Pole also makes the portion “a suitable pit stop for future space exploration".

Countries across the world have been investing their resources to reach Moon’s South Pole since it provides the best linkage to early history of Earth, providing an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. With Chandrayaan 2, ISRO is making an attempt at creating a new age of discovery and increase understanding of space. The success of the discovery could promote advancement of technology and inspire future generation of explorers and scientists with respect to the lunar surface.

Meanwhile, according to ISRO, the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOU) was completed successfully at 9:02 am as planned using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of maneuver was 1738 seconds.

On July 22, the Chandrayaan-2 was injected into an elliptical orbit of 170X45,475 km by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

The spacecraft comprises three segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), the lander 'Vikram' (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover 'Pragyan' (27 kg, two payloads).

ISRO said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram's separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon's South Pole early on Saturday, September 7.