With 8 payloads, orbiter to look for water, minerals
Bengaluru: All is not lost with Vikram and Pragyan losing contact with Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) moments before their scheduled landing. Their separated brother, the lunar orbiter, is going around the Moon, collecting valuable information on possibility of finding water and minerals.
Equipped with eight payloads, the orbiter, that has been in place since September 1, has a life span of more than seven years.
Nasa veteran Jerry Linenger, who had flown on space shuttles and spent five months on Russian space station Mir in 1997, said, “With Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter doing three-dimensional mapping of the Moon and looking beneath the lunar surface, we are expecting a lot of information. Anyone looking to set up a base on Moon will be benefited by such information.”
Retired Isro scientist M Annadurai, who was the project director of the 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission, told TOI that the orbiter does many things that the lander and the rover couldn’t have. “While the rover’s research area would have been 500 metres, the orbiter will map the entire Moon from an altitude of about 100km. Onboard equipment such as IR spectrometer, two cameras and dual-band synthetic aperture radar can do a lot,” Annadurai said.
“The IR spectrometer covers the entire Moon to study what three payloads of Chandrayaan-1 — India’s hyperspectral imager, Germany’s near infrared spectrometer and Nasa’s moon mineralogy mapper — have done,” he added.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter’s terrain mapping camera has a spatial resolution of 5m and a swath of 20km, which will help Isro prepare 3D maps of the lunar surface. The high-resolution camera can pick up details as small as 30cm (Chandrayaan-1 camera had 1m resolution). The indigenous synthetic aperture radar used this time has dual band (frequency), whereas the Nasa-imported one used in Chandrayaan-1 had just one band.
Another senior Isro scientist told TOI that the synthetic aperture radar will help Isro make accurate estimates of water in the polar craters. “It can capture images of lunar rocks of up to one foot. This camera will be used in the Cartosat-3 series of surveillance satellites and also the Indo-US joint venture NISAR satellite due for launch in 2022,” he said.
Sivan shows the orbiter (right) and the lander at a press conference on Aug 20