India is about to land the Chandrayaan-2 lunar lander Vikram on the moon, to become only the fourth country — behind the US, the former Soviet Union and China to make a soft landing on the surface of the moon
The Chandrayaan-2, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to touchdown sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.EDT
Chandrayaan-2 is the second spacecraft to the moon by India, following on the heels of the Chandrayaan-1 (orbiter) mission which explored the moon from 2008 to 2009.
Chandrayaan-2 has an orbiter, lander and the small rover Pragyan.
The purpose of Chandrayaan-2 is to study the mysterious moon from top to bottom, including its topography, mineralogy, exosphere, elemental abundance and even possible seismic activity. With seven instruments aboard the orbiter, three aboard the lander and a further two attached to the rover, there will be no stone left unturned.
India launched the Chandrayaan-2 mission on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The mission entered orbit just under a month later, with the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter placed into orbit 62 (100 meters) above the lunar surface.
Once settled, the orbiter’s cameras, spectrometers and radars will get to work in finding the elusive lunar water ice and hydroxyl (molecules containing the oxygen and hydrogen bond) signatures. The Vikram lander, which also contains the Pragyan rover, disengaged from the orbiter on Monday to prepare for today’s landing.