India’s second sojourn to the moon, Chandrayaan-2 will be India’s first interplanetary mission to be steered by two women – project Director M Vanitha and mission director Ritu Karidhal. This particular mission that is an advancement of Chandrayaan-1, which was launched a decade ago, is scheduled for lift off on 15 July from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
Chandrayaan-2 will have three modules- Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan) that are designed to carry out multiple experiments, including mapping of the surface, minerals, chemical composition, detecting sparse water molecules above the lunar surface and rock formations. The spacecraft that weighs approximately 3.8 tones will attempt a soft landing on the moon, adding to the complexity of the mission. And if successful, India will join hands with U.S, Russia and China to have achieved the feat so far.
The mission is expected to take a total of 58 days post launch in the orbit’s various stages for the modules to reach the moon and an additional four days to land near the South Polar Region. The lunar landing on the unexplored south polar region of the moon, which is the first for any country, is expected to take place on September 6 or 7. The endeavor will shed light on the possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas as well as craters that are cold traps that contain the fossil record of the early solar system.
This Indian mission to space will not only unravel the deep mysteries of the Moon but will also take ISRO’s relations with NASA to new heights. Out of the 14 payloads that Chandrayaan-2 will be carrying to the moon, 13 are indigenous payloads and there’s one passive payload of NASA. It is integrated with Lander (Vikram) and will help calculate the distance between the moon and earth.
To say that women scientists have not served important roles at the ISRO is a gross understatement; in fact 30% of ISRO’s employees are women. They’ve steered crucial missions and also help key positions, not just to establish gender sensitivity but just because they’re the right people for the job. Even earlier women had massive contribution to Chandrayaan 1 and the Mars Orbiter Mission, ISRO’s only two outer space exploration mission before Chandrayaan-2.