All eyes on the moon

Mon, Jul 15, 2019

In the wee hours on Monday, India will launch its second lunar mission. Chandrayaan-2 will lift off from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s launch facility in Sriharikota. The mission will deploy an orbiter around the moon, softly set down a lander near its south pole, and then roll out a lunar rover to collect data.
India’s first moon mission, launched in 2008, had detected tell-tale signs of water molecules. Chandrayaan-1 made the path-breaking discovery that the moon holds water. This one will explore the possibility of water’s presence on the far side. This revived scientists' interest in the moon again. They had started to treat the moon only as a dry planet whose significance could be in the context of resource exploration. Mars had taken over the moon here back on the earth.
Now, ISRO is visiting the moon again. Why? 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.
The mission adds yet another feather in our space agency’s cap. To put the goal in context, if the venture succeeds, India would become only the fourth country after the former Soviet Union, US and China to land a spacecraft on the moon. Even a technologically-advanced country like Israel failed in carrying out a Moon landing earlier this year. India’s mission aims to land on the so-called “dark side" of the Moon, which gets very little sunlight that is essential for solar-powered instruments. Other missions have mostly landed near the Moon’s equator.
ISRO has earned a global reputation for advanced space missions undertaken at a fraction of the cost incurred by other countries. This Moon mission is no different. It will cost less than ₹1,000 crore, or about $145 million. That’s perhaps less than what it costs to make a Hollywood movie. Some argue that this money could be better spent on the poor. But the two objectives are independent of each other. Our space research must not slow. It would help foster a scientific temper in the country, encourage innovation and perhaps result in discoveries that could be of immense commercial value in time to come. A small step for ISRO could turn out to be a giant leap for the rest of us.


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi