Initially envisaged for just 1 year, the life of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is now expected to last for 7 years according to Union Minister Jitendra Singh. The remarkable news came when Union Minister Jitendra Singh took to a Lok Sabha proceeding and gave a response to a question about the India’s second lunar mission.
The minister went into detail about how the Chandrayaan-2 was an incredibly complex mission to develop, deploy and demonstrate India’s strength for end-to-end lunar mission compatibility. The mission also aimed at carrying out a perfect soft-landing and roving on the surface of moon. “But for achieving soft landing at the intended spot, the other objectives of the mission have been significantly attained. So much so, that against an initially envisaged one-year life of orbiter, we expect it to be serving for seven years,” Mr Jitendra Singh said.
ISRO missions have been in past known for having enhanced life compared to envisaged. Even the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) had a life span of six months after its insertion into the Mars orbit. However, to this day MOM is functioning and sending pictures to Indian space agency.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission has already accomplished the mission of increasing lunar scientific knowledge through in-depth topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, and tenuous lunar atmosphere related knowledge. This mission provided the Indian space program with an abundance of information through which evolution and origin of the moon could be identified.
Just last year in August, Jitendra Singh had also announced that Chandrayan-2 orbiter, which will now be carrying out missions for the next 7 years, captured images of Moon’s craters. These craters were given the name of “Sarabhai crater”, after Indian Space Program’s father Vikram Sarabhai. The Sarabhai Crater has a depth of around 1.7 km with the slope of crater wall falling in between 25-35 degrees. According to Jitendra Singh, these key details would go on to help space scientists to further understand the process of lava-filled lunar region.
Chandrayaan-2 is hailed as the most complex space mission to have ever been undertaken by ISRO. However, through its wisdom and intellect, the space researchers from ISRO managed to cut down the cost of the mission heavily. To put it in perspective, the mission costs less than half of the budget of Hollywood film: Avengers Endgame. At just $124 million, the mission was half the cost of estimated budget of Endgame ($356 million). The mission was also remarkable as it made India the 4th country in the world to have landed a spacecraft on the Moon. Prior to India, the USA, Russia and China have all landed their spacecrafts on the Moon.
Chandrayaan-2 was sent to the space with 3 missions combined together, the orbiter’s mission was to circle around the moon, the Vikram Lander was to make a soft landing near moon’s South Pole, and the Pragyan rover was to explore the surface of the moon and carry out observations on the water ice found on Moon.
Unfortunately, both the Vikram Lander and Rover were destroyed during their attempted landings in 2019. On September 7, 2019, the Vikram Lander and Rover’s landing began at its scheduled time. For the first few minutes, everything went according to the plan. ISRO scientists that were keeping an eye on the mission at the Mission Operations Complex cheered as Vikram Lander aced most stages of descent.
#Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed; subsequently communication from lander was lost; data is being analysed: K Sivan, #ISRO Chairperson#Chandrayaan2 #Chandrayaan2Live pic.twitter.com/UEbe1ODEu1
— PIB India (@PIB_India) September 6, 2019
However, after a few minutes the control room lost contact with the lander. The then ISRO chief K Sivan briefed the reporters saying that the control room had lost contact and before that the lander performed exactly like it was supposed to. The teary eye ISRO chief was then seen hugging the Indian Prime Minister who was also present during the event.
— Nagarjun Dwarakanath (@nagarjund) September 7, 2019