Q. India’s quest to land its first spacecraft on the moon got off to a smooth start with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 mission aboard the country’s most powerful rocket – GSLV Mk-III. In light of this statement, discuss the significance of this mission.

Model Answer

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s most challenging, totally indigenous, and India’s second mission to Moon. It is advanced version of previous Chandrayaan-1 mission (launched in 2008) which only involved orbiting around moon, Chandrayaan-2 is much complicated mission as it involves an orbiter, lander and rover. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover was to separate from the Orbiter. After a controlled descent, the Lander was supposed to soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.

Significance of the Mission

  • Technical: The mission will help India and the world gain a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface.
  • Understanding of the Solar System: Unlike the earth, the moon does not have a tilt around its axis. It is almost erect, because of which some areas in the polar region never receive sunlight. Anything here remains frozen, almost for eternity. Scientists believe that rocks found in these craters could have fossil records that can reveal information about the early solar system.
  • Quest for Water: Two instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 provided irrefutable evidence of water on the Moon, something that had been elusive for more than four decades. Chandrayaan-2 will take the search further, trying to assess the abundance and distribution of water on the surface.
  • Colonisation: It is very difficult for humans to survive on Moon’s surface due to hazardous radiation, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperature and dust storms. It will try to find possibilities of sustaining human life on Earth’s natural satellite with an aim to colonising it.
  • Geopolitical
    • Indigenous development: The mighty launch vehicle GSLV Mk -III has been completely designed and made within the country, making it a fully home-grown technology, hence Chandrayaan 2 is a fully indigenous mission.
    • Frugal Engineering: Chandrayaan 2 also stands out for its frugal cost of engineering as its total cost is way lower than several other lunar missions. ISRO has carved a niche for itself across the globe, in the sphere of astronomy and space research for running cost-effective as well as less expensive projects.

  • Led by India’s ‘Rocket Women’: Apart from having many first-time milestones, the Chandrayaan 2 project is being spearheaded by two senior women scientists of ISRO. The mission will inspire a future generation of scientists, engineers and explorers including women who will not only endeavour to break the doors of patriarchy but rise high above in the space.

Conclusion

The soft-landing on the lunar surface of the moon was the most complex part of Chandrayaan 2 mission. Only US, Russia and China have been able to soft land spacecraft on lunar surface. Unfortunately, in the last leg of soft landing, India lost its communication with Vikram Lander. But yet the milestone was a 95% success, as told by the ISRO chief.

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