Chandrayaan-2’s lunar exploration will take place through thirteen scientific instruments called payloads that will perform a range of experiments.

Explainer The scientific instruments onboard ISROs Chandrayaan-2 Moon missionChandrayaan-2 Orbiter at launch centre/ISRO
news Space Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 14:05

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the moon, is set to launch on July 15. Chandrayaan-2’s lunar exploration will take place through thirteen scientific instruments called payloads that will perform a range of experiments to increase our understanding of the Moon’s surface and the exosphere.

A passive experiment from US space agency NASA will also be onboard Chandrayaan-2 to help understand the dynamics of Earth’s moon system and the lunar interior. 

Chandrayaan-1, the predecessor to Chandrayaan-2, was launched in 2008 and carried 11 payloads: five from India, three from Europe, two from the United States and one from Bulgaria. Data from Chandrayaan-1 showed evidence of water in the exosphere of the Moon, on its surface as well as its sub-surface, ISRO has said

Aside from NASA's passive experiment, Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter, soft lander and rover will carry the 13 instruments, all of which use Indian technology.

According to ISRO, the orbiter will have eight payloads. This includes a terrain mapping camera to map the lunar surface and collect data on the moon’s evolution. It will also help ISRO prepare 3-D maps of the moon’s surface. 

Other instruments include CLASS (Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer) which will examine the presence of major elements like Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Titanium, Iron and Sodium; a solar X-ray monitor to observe X-rays emitted by the sun; an Orbiter High Resolution Camera, which helps ensure the lander can touchdown safely by detecting craters and boulders and providing high-res images of the landing site.

The orbiter’s other payloads are an Image IR Spectrometer for “global mineralogical and volatile mapping of the Moon”; Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar for high-res mapping of the polar region and a quantitative estimation of water-ice in those areas; CHACE 2 (Chandrayaan 2 Atmospheric Compositional Explorer 2) to continue an experiment started by Chandrayaan 1; and a Dual Frequency Radio Science Experiment to study the temporal evolution of electron density in the lunar ionosphere. 

Chandrayaan-2’s lander, dubbed ‘Vikram’ after Dr Vikram Sarabhai — the father of India’s space programme, is set to make a soft landing near the South Pole of the moon in September. It will carry three payloads: a diagnostic tool to understand the lunar ionosphere; an instrument to measure the vertical temperature gradient and thermal conductivity on the lunar surface; and a seismometer to detect minute “ground displacement, velocity and acceleration caused by lunar quakes.” 

The six-wheeled robotic rover Pragyan will carry two payloads: One instrument to determine the elemental composition of the moon’s surface near the landing site, and the other to identify and determine the abundance of elements near the landing site. 

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.