Spectacular image of the moon taken by India’s pioneering Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft reveals the pockmarked lunar surface from 1,646 miles above
- Chandrayaan-2 snapped an image of the moon using its on-board camera
- The photo was taken at a height of 1,646 miles (2,650 km) above the surface
- Mission hopes to make India the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon
- It will arrive at the lunar south pole on September 7 if all goes to current plans
A stunning image of the moon has been taken by India’s ground-breaking Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft from lunar orbit.
It snapped an image of the barren surface and its myriad craters caused by a barrage of wayward meteorites.
The photo was taken at a height of 1,646 miles (2,650 km) above the moon and includes a look at the Apollo crater and the Mare Orientalis.
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The stunning image of the moon (pictured) was taken by India’s ground-breaking Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft from lunar orbit. It includes includes a look at the Apollo crater and the Mare Orientalis
WHAT IS CHANDRAYAAN-2?
Chandrayaan-2 is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) second lunar probe. It is comprised of three modules, an Orbiter, a Lander called Vikram, and a Rover called Pragyan.
The Orbiter will have a terrain mapping camera to help prepare 3D maps of the moon’s surface, an X-ray spectrometer looking for major elements including titanium and sodium, and another high resolution camera to help the other modules land safely.
Vikram will have an instrument to detect seismic activity on the moon, and a thermal probe that’ll examine the thermal conductivity of the surface.
Pragyan will have an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer that examines the elemental composition of the surface and a laser induced breakdown spectroscope which looks at the abundance of various elements nearby. The entire mission has cost around 10 billion rupees (£120million).
The Indian Space Research Organisation said it has manoeuvred Chandrayaan – the Sanskrit word for ‘moon craft’ – into lunar orbit on Tuesday.
The precise moment that happened was 09:02 local time (04:32 GMT) and Chandrayaan will continue circling the planet in a tighter orbit until reaching a distance of about 62 miles from the surface.
The lander will then separate from the orbiter and use rocket fuel to brake as it attempts to land in the south polar region of the moon on September 7.
A rover will search for water deposits which were confirmed by a previous Indian moon mission.
Scientists have said the water deposits could make the moon a good refuelling station for further space travel.
The $145m (£116m) mission was launched on 22 July and Indian officials hope it will be the first to ever land on the Moon’s south pole.
It is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) second lunar probe, and the first one destined to land on the moon, and is scheduled to land on September 6.
Location, location, location: The various Moon landings throughout history – illustrated nation by nation, including U.S. India will become only the fourth country, after the US, Russia and China , to reach Earth’s satellite if successful
The ISRO has said it chose to explore the south pole as it is possible there is water in the permanently shadowed areas, which could pave the way for future lunar habitation.
It also hopes to examine the inside of craters – which are cold traps – to get a greater understanding of the evolution of the moon.
These areas have stayed extremely cold for huge amounts of time and scientists believe it is likely they contain a fossil record of the early solar system.
Chandrayaan-2 has three modules, an Orbiter, a Lander called Vikram, and a Rover called Pragyan, which means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit.
Launch: ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 being launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of southern Andhra Pradesh state
Vikram, named after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme, should land on a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, which are around 70° south.
From there, the six-wheeled robotic vehicle Pragyan will roll out and spend one lunar day, or a fortnight on Earth, carrying out scientific experiments on the surface.
ISRO hope topographical studies, mineralogical analyses and other experiments will help the world gain a better understanding of the moon’s origins.
Using solar energy to power itself, Pragyan will be able to communicate with the Lander, which in turn can send information to both the Indian Deep Space Network in Byalalu and the Orbiter.
Former NASA scientist Kumar Krishen said India’s space agency should be praised for taking on ambitious projects like Chandrayaan-2.
‘We should keep in mind that space exploration is risky as many systems have failed in the past and many lives lost,’ he told AFP.
WHAT HAS INDIA’S SPACE AGENCY DONE TO REACH THE MOON?
Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar orbiter, launched in 2008.
The £49 million ($69 million) mission was launched amid national euphoria, putting India in the Asian space race alongside rival China and reinforcing its claim to be considered a global power.
A vehicle landed on the moon a month later and sent back images of the lunar surface.
In 2009 India terminated the mission a year earlier than planned, after scientists lost all contact with their unmanned orbiting spacecraft.
Chandrayaan-1 (pictured) was India’s first lunar orbiter, launched in 2008. The £49 million ($69 million) mission was launched amid national euphoria
A crucial sensor in the main craft malfunctioned in July experts believe.
The satellite is believed to have crashed into the moon’s surface.
‘Our efforts to establish contact have failed. The mission has been terminated,’ said S Satish, from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at the time.
‘There was no point continuing with the mission.’
Named Chandrayaan-2, the vehicle will take between one and two months to reach orbit and once the rover reaches the surface it will explore the area around the south pole.
It is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) second lunar probe.
Weighing nearly 3,300kg (7,300lbs), the spacecraft will take off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, off India’s southwest coast.
It is now set for launch in January 2019.