Explainer: The scientific instruments onboard ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission

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Explainer: The scientific instruments onboard ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission

The launch is now scheduled for Sunday, July 14 at 2:21 p.m. PT and will take place at India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, north of Chennai.

July 18, 1980 - Satellite Launch Vehicle-3, India's first experimental satellite launch vehicle, is launched, making India the sixth space-faring nation.

Just five days before the 50th anniversary of man's first lunar landing, Chandrayaan-2 - or Moon Chariot 2 - will blast off from a tropical island off Andhra Pradesh state after a decade-long build-up. If it can achieve the hard feat of landing on the surface, India will become just the fourth nation to complete a soft landing in history, following the US, Russia and China, which now has the Chang'e 4 rover operating on the far side of the moon.

The Chandrayaan-2 has three parts: an orbiter, a Lander named Vikram (inspired by space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai), and a rover named Pragyaan. Rover will also carry out a passive experiment for United States space agency NASA while it's time on the moon.

The Lander will soft-land on the lunar surface and unload the Rover to study and take measurements from the surface.

Other instruments include CLASS (Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer) which will examine the presence of major elements like Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Titanium, Iron and Sodium; a solar X-ray monitor to observe X-rays emitted by the sun; an Orbiter High Resolution Camera, which helps ensure the lander can touchdown safely by detecting craters and boulders and providing high-res images of the landing site.

China landed its Chang'e 4 lunar craft in January, and spent US$8.4 billion on its entire space programme in 2017, according to worldwide Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development figures. Chandrayaan-1 was in operation for 312 days.

Amitabha Ghosh, a scientist for NASA's Rover mission to Mars, said the benefits of Chandrayaan-2 are huge, compared to its cost. Similarly, the lander will facilitate communications between the rover, orbiter and Earth.

Consequently, the liquid engine was once more fired to make the spacecraft travel to the vicinity of the Moon by following a path called the "Lunar Transfer Trajectory (LTT)".

This is the sequel to Chandrayaan-1, an ISRO mission that launched 11 years ago featuring only a lunar orbiter.

The primary objective of the mission is to demonstrate the agency's ability to carry out a soft landing on the lunar surface and to operate a robotic rover there. A lunar orbit insertion burn will place Chandrayaan-2 into an elliptical orbit and the spacecraft will begin braking to reduce its orbit to a 100-kilometer circle.

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