Pragyan rover will help identify elements present near landing site on the Moon's surface

Abigail Banerji
The rover will be tucked into the lander and will only come out when it's safe after the soft landing.

Chandrayaan 2, India's second mission to the Moon, is set to take off on 15 July. The mission will lift off from ISRO's island launchpad in SHAR, Sriharikota on 15 July 2019 at 2.51 am IST, Dr Sivan confirmed at a press briefing in Bengaluru.

The three main modules of this mission include the Vikram lander, the Pragyan rover and an orbiter. Pragyan, which means 'wisdom' in Sanskrit is a rover and the third component of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. It is a robotic vehicle that will traverse the lunar surface on six wheels that are painted in the colours of the tiranga. It is expected to travel at a speed of one centimetre per minute and will hence travel a total distance of half a kilometre.

The orbiter and the lander are stacked together to fit into the GSLV Mk-III and the rover is tucked into the lander. When the lander makes a soft landing on the Moon, the rover will roll out and start its exploration. The Chandrayaan-2 mission will have the distinction of being the first mission when ISRO would have sent a lander and rover on the lunar surface.

There are two instruments onboard that will test the mineral and chemical compositions of the surface of the Moon along with the soil and rocks. Chandrayaan-1 found water on the Moon's surface and the rover will now try to find if the water is present on the permanently shadowed parts of the Moon.

The south pole of the Moon also contains ancient rocks and craters that can offer clues about the history of the Moon. There are also fossil records that could throw some light on the early solar system. Data on and around the South side of the pole will be collected and sent to the Vikram lander which will then be beamed to the orbiter. The orbiter will send it to ground control.

One of the instruments on Pragyan is a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS). Coming from the Laboratory for Electro Optic Systems (LEOS) in Bengaluru, LIBS' main objective is to identify the elements that are present near the landing site. To do this, laser pulses are fired at various locations and the radiation from the decayed plasma is analysed.

The second instrument is the Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope (APIXS) from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. Its primary objective is to look at the composition of the elements near the landing site.

The surface of the Moon will be bombarded with alpha particles and it will help in detecting and identifying the major rock-forming elements such as sodium, magnesium, aluminium, silica, calcium, titanium, iron and some trace elements such as strontium, yttrium and zirconium.

The rover is powered by solar energy and will spend a total of 14 Earth days carrying out its scientific experiments.

Also See: ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 launch confirmed for 15 July, landing expected in September

Chandrayaan 2 orbiter and lander revealed at ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment facility in Bengaluru

Chandrayaan-2: ISRO's orbiter, rover and lander will survey Moon's mineral, water-ice

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