ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission, expected to take place between 9 and 16 July 2019, is undoubtedly a phenomenal event that the country has its eye on. Considering the interest Indians have on the ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation has been issuing regular updates on the same.
Upon successful completion of the moon landing that is expected to happen on 6 September 2019, ISRO Chandrayaan 2 will become the first mission to land a rover near the lunar south pole making India the fourth country to achieve this feat after US, USSR and China. However, regardless of how exciting this sounds, moon landing has various challenges with technological issues being just some of them.
Technological challenges ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission could face during moon landing
ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission will have three modules namely the Orbiter, Vikram lander and Pragyan rover that will be housed inside the lander. ISRO has shared an image that has mentioned of the various challenges that the Vikram lander may face and some of the technological challenges are as follows:
Trajectory Accuracy: The distance between moon and earth is around 3.844 lakh kilometers. Therefore, ensuring trajectory accuracy while navigating such a large distance poses several challenges as trajectory is influenced by various factors such as gravitational pull from astronomical bodies, solar radiation pressure, and non-uniform gravity of the earth and moon.
Deep Space Communication: Distance between earth and moon could again play hindrance as there would be weak on-board power and radio signals used for communication bombarded with heavy background noise. Large antennas would need to pick up the limited signals.
Margin of error needs to be low during Trans Lunar Injection and Lunar Capture: ISRO Chandrayaan 2 and the moon’s path has to be predicted sufficiently in advance and with a high level of accuracy.
Keeping on-board electronics safe: The ISRO Chandrayaan 2 mission will carry various instruments on-board such as Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (LASS, Solar X-ray monitor (XSM), NAVCAMs, and so on. Therefore, precise knowledge of the thermal environment at the orbital altitude is necessary for keeping on-board electronics safe.
Vikram Lander on the moon: The landing site landscape features should not result in a communication shadow area and the onboard NGC and propulsion system has to work is unison, automatically and autonomously for a successful landing.
Lunar dust may affect instruments: Lunar dust which is minuscule and hard barbed, could stick to surfaces and cause disruptions in deployment mechanisms, solar panel performance and NGC sensor performance.
Temperature and vacuum could impact ISRO Chandrayaan 2: Extreme surface temperature and vacuum makes the lunar surface an extremely hostile environment for Vikram lander and Pragyan rover operations.