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ISRO’s second moon mission planned for 2018 (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains Paper II)

Flush with the success of the PSLV- C37 mission which set a world record by placing 104 satellites in orbit, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is turning its attention to India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan- 2, scheduled for 2018.

About Chandrayaan-2
Chandrayaan-2 is India's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II). It includes a lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all developed by India. India is planning to launch Chandrayaan-2 by 2018.

The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will pick up soil or rock samples for on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

Launch Vehicle
The mission is planned to fly on a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II) with an approximate lift-off mass of 3,250 kg (7,170 lb) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island.

The orbiter will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 100 km. The Lander will come out of orbiter.

Unlike Chandrayaan-1's Moon Impact Probe, which impacted the Moon's surface, the lander will make a soft landing to then deploy the rover. The lander will not perform any scientific activities. The approximate mass of the lander and rover is 1,250 kg. Initially, the lander was slated to be developed by Russia in collaboration with India. When Russia stated its inability provide the lander to meet even the revised time frame of 2015, Indian officials decided to develop the lander independently.

The rover's mass will be about 20 kg and will operate on solar power. The rover will move on wheels on the lunar surface, pick up samples of soil or rocks, perform on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the orbiter above, which will relay it to the Earth station.

The initial plan was for the rover to be designed in Russia and fabricated in India. However, Russia gave up in May 2010 on its plan on designing the rover. Subsequently, ISRO decided on designing and fabricating the rover. IIT Kanpur is developing subsystems of Rover.

Comparison with Chandrayaan-1
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor. India launched the spacecraft using a PSLV-XL rocket.

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