Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday dated 22-07-2019 successfully launched its second moon mission called Chandrayaan-2 earlier which was scheduled on 15TH of July. Let us first study the history of ISRO starting from its first satellite to the latest one.
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) was formed on 15 August 1969, with its Headquarters in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The current Chairman of ISRO is Mr. K.Sivan. ISRO superseded the INCOSPAR in 1969. ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India. Its vision is to “harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established in the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1972 Government of India set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS), bringing ISRO under the DOS. The establishment of ISRO thus institutionalized space research activities in India. It is managed by the Department of Space, which reports to the Prime Minister of India.
ISRO built India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, which was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975. It was named after the mathematician Aryabhata. In 1980, on the other hand, Rohini became the first satellite to be placed in orbit by India’s homogeneously made launch vehicle called SLV-3. ISRO subsequently developed two other rockets: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launching satellites into polar orbits and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for placing satellites into geostationary orbits. These rockets have launched various communications satellites and Earth observation satellites. Two other Satellite navigation systems like GAGAN and IRNSS have also been developed and deployed.
Talking about Organisational structure and facilities ISRO is managed by the Department of Space (DOS) of the Government of India. DOS itself falls under the authority of the Space Commission and manages the following agencies and institutes. Here is the whole organizational structure:-
- Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.
- Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram.
- Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota.
- UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad.
- National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad.
- ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri.
- ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), Thiruvananthapuram.
- Development and Educational Communication Unit (DECU), Ahmedabad.
- Master Control Facility (MCF), Hassan, Karnataka.
- ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru.
- Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS), Bengaluru.
- Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), Dehradun.
- ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bengaluru.
- Antrix Corporation – The marketing arm of ISRO, Bengaluru.
- Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.
- National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), Gadanki, Andhra Pradesh.
- North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC), Umiam.
- Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL), Mohali.
- Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram – India’s space University.
India owns many launching vehicles namely:- Satellite Launch Vehicle(SLV), Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV-MK-III). Even after ISRO owns many launching vehicles its satellites were launched by foreign agencies of Europe, Russia and the United States of America which are 30 in numbers. India’s first satellite was ARYABHATA which was launched on April 19, 1975, with the help of (C-1 Intercosmos) launching vehicle followed by 105 satellites till May 2019. While Chandrayaan-2 is the most recent launched satellite.
Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian lunar mission that will boldly go where no country has ever gone before to the Moon’s south polar region. Through this effort, the aim is to improve our understanding of the Moon, discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole. These insights and experiences aimed at a paradigm shift in how lunar expeditions are approached for years to come, propelling further voyages into the farthest frontiers. It was launched from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre located at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III). For the past few days, Internet and Social media are full of news about Chandrayaan-2, the whole world is praising INDIA and India’s space agency ISRO for it remarkable mission to the moon with homogeneously developed technology. A successful landing would make India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, after the space agencies of the USSR, USA, and China.
How it all Started
On 12 November 2007, representatives of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and ISRO signed an agreement for the two agencies to work together on the Chandrayaan-2 project. ISRO would have the prime responsibility for the orbiter and rover, while Roscosmos was to provide the lander. The Indian government approved the mission in a meeting of the Union Cabinet, held on 18 September 2008 and chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The design of the spacecraft was completed in August 2009 with scientists of both countries conducting a joint review, within one year of the launch of Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008. The mission was postponed in January 2013 and rescheduled to 2016 because Russia was unable to develop the lander on time. Roscosmos later withdrew because of failure of Fobos-Grunt mission to Mars. After this ISRO decided to build all required parts and develop technology to be used in the mission homogeneously. It took time but the spacecraft’s launch had been scheduled for March 2018, but was first delayed to April and then to October to conduct further tests on the vehicle.
The primary objectives of Chandrayaan-2 are to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface. Scientific goals include studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice. The orbiter will map the lunar surface and help to prepare 3D maps of it. The onboard radar will also map the surface while studying the water ice in the south polar region and thickness of the lunar regolith on the surface. Chandrayaan-2 will inform the location and abundance of lunar water for exploitation by the future lunar base proposed by the Artemis program.
Why Are We Going To The Moon?
The Moon is the closest cosmic body at which space discovery can be attempted and documented. It is also a promising testbed to demonstrate the technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan-2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists.
What Are The Scientific Objectives Of Chandrayaan-2?
Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of the Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of the lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon. Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.
Why Explore The Lunar South Pole?
The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System. Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft-land the lander -Vikram and rover- Pragyan in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south.
Some interesting facts to be remembered about Chandrayaan-2
- 1st space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s south polar region.
- 1st Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology.
- 1st Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology.
- 4th country ever to soft-land on the lunar surface.
- The launch of Chandrayaan-2 comes close on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the historic mission Apollo-11 when man first landed on the moon.
India has also announced its intention of sending a manned space mission by 2022. This mission is significant for India the country wants to become a major space player and put Indian astronauts in space by 2022. In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet when it put the Mangalyaan probe into orbit around Mars which only cost $74 Million. In 2017, India launched a record 104 satellites in one mission while operating a low-cost budget. Meanwhile, the success of Chandrayaan-2 has brought a huge relief for the ISRO scientists after they postponed the launch on July 15 following a technical glitch in the rocket. The Rs 978-crore unmanned mission also promoted Women Empowerment to another level as the mission was headed by two woman scientists of the ISRO – Ritu Karidhal and M Vanitha, the Mission and Project directors respectively. The Lander and the Rover are expected to touch down near the Lunar South Pole in early September, becoming the first-ever spacecraft to land in that region. The Lunar South Pole remains unexplored till date.
India’s low-cost, homegrown technology that has powered its space programme is a source of national pride and inspiration.