India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to Attempt Historic Moon Landing

Representation of the Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander descent to the lunar surface

Chandrayaan-2 consisted of three components - an orbiter, a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan - which together launched to the moon on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket.

If the lander had pulled off the historic touchdown, the country could have joined the US, Russia and China in soft landing on the lunar surface.

Several of the early USA and Soviet attempts at a soft, robotic, landing on the moon in the 1960s were unsuccessful.

Long, tense minutes stretched out inside the mission control center for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which designed the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft.

National Geographic has roped in former NASA astronaut Jerry M. Linenger - he flew aboard the US Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1997 and lived on the Russian Space Station Mir for over four months - to serve as an expert voice for their coverage of Chandrayaan-2 landing. The lander will separate and attempt to find a spot free of boulders to touch down on the moon.

India's attempt to become the first nation to put a spacecraft on the south pole of the moon is on hold.

Chandrayaan-2 is out and about and set to create history tonight!

Denevi told Nature that she was most excited about the orbiter's imaging infrared spectrometer, which will map light reflected off the lunar surface over a wide range of wavelengths.


This information can be used to identify and quantify surface water, which absorbs light strongly at certain wavelengths, she said.

Modi also interacted with students and answered questions. Moreover, because of the way the Moon is locked around the Earth, days and nights last two weeks at any given point on its surface.

The space agency's chairman had earlier called Chandrayaan-2 the "most complex mission ever" undertaken by the space agency.

The American Apollo 11 mission reached lunar orbit just 75 hours, 50 minutes after blast-off. The south pole of the Moon has a much higher occurrence of water ice because of craters whose interiors aren't hit by near-constant sunlight, as opposed to the north pole of the Moon.

That could be useful for moon habitation and making fuel for exploring Mars.

This was echoed by many, who said that regardless of what happened, they were proud of ISRO's scientists and what the country has achieved.

Media captionIs India a space superpower?

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