Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists will be glued to their consoles tracking telemetry parameters at the Missions Operation Complex in Bengaluru, as Chandrayaan 2 attempts a soft landing near the South Pole of the moon on September 7. Since the takeoff on July 22, the teamof scientists has been working upto 16 hours a day: calculating the orbit, performing simulations, and planning complex orbital manoeuvres.
The powered descent, which India will attempt for the first time, was described as “fifteen minutes of terror” by the ISRO chairperson K Sivan. “It will be a terrifying moment for us. Everybody’s eyes would be glued to their consoles. The telemetry parameters will keep telling us that we are going in the right direction, but at the same time, there will be a lot of anxiety about what will happen in the next moment,” Sivan had said, describing the most challenging phase of the mission after Chandrayaan 2 had entered in a lunar orbit on August 20.
To ensure that the Rs 978 crore mission is a success, scientists made last minute changes to the design of the lander in mid-2018, as suggested by the group of eminent scientists, and even conducted a development flight of the GSLV Mark III vehicle in November 2018, which would take the heavier payload to space.
On July 15, when the mission had to be aborted at the eleventh hour because of a technical snag, many did not leave the launch site at Sriharikota for over 24 hours: the problem was detected; the fuel tank of the launch vehicle emptied out; and the problem was fixed.
“Landing on the moon is a complex mission. India will attempt to land near the South Pole for which the orbit around the moon has to be precise, making the mission more complex. A success will show the world the technical capability of India,” said Mylswamy Annadurai, former head of the UR Rao Satellite Centre and the project director of Chandrayaan 1.