The man behind Chandrayaan 1 thinks India's second mission to the moon is the 'most complex' ever

The man behind Chandrayaan 1 thinks India's second mission to the moon is the 'most complex' ever
Former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman, G. Madhavan NairBCCL

  • India’s Chandrayaan 2 will be attempting to soft on the Moon’s South between 1:30am and 2:30am on 7 September 2019.
  • Former Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman Madhavan Nair thinks this is the most complex mission that ISRO has ever attempted.
  • Nair led the team at ISRO during India’s first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan 1.
Chandrayaan-2 mission is all set to soft-land on the moon’s surface between 01:30 and 02:30 am on Saturday, 7 September 2019.

While the whole world eagerly awaits to see this historic event, G Madhavan Nair, the former chairman of ISRO says Chandrayaan-2 is the most complex mission that ISRO has ever attempted.

The man behind Chandrayaan 1

Most notably, Nair had fronted the Chandrayaan-1 mission about a decade back when he was the chairman of ISRO. Commenting on the successful step of separating ‘Vikram’, the lander from the orbiter Chandrayaan-2 on Monday, Madhavan Nair said it was a phenomenal achievement. He added that from now onwards, the rest of the mission ahead of us leading to soft-landing on the moon is even more a tougher job.

Nair said, "We are one step closer to having us soft-land on the lunar surface and so far so good; all the mission sequences have gone off well, computation, as well as planning, have worked well and now the lander is in elliptical orbit".

Chandrayaan 2 mission gets tough

From this point, the rest of the mission to be accomplished is indeed a tougher one, says Madhavan Nair. There are onboard cameras mapping the moon’s terrain and forwarding the pictures to the ISRO’s center. The scientists have to carefully select the right location suitable for the successful soft-landing of Vikram.

Saying that this is going to be a highly challenging job in an interview to the press, the former chairman added, "It's a very, very complex operation. I don't think any nation has done a similar operation trying to have real-time pictures and then try to have an on-board computer implement autonomously the function of the landing. It's going to be a remarkable event and we are all looking forward to that event. I am sure it will be a 100% success".

Soft landing on the Moon

Describing the process of soft-landing on the moon’s surface in an interesting way, Nair said, it is comparable to something like a flying saucer hovering over the surface and then slowly descending as we come across in a science fiction.

ISRO will be implementing almost a sequence similar to this with virtually no real-time controls on the ground.

Giving the technical details of the soft-landing anticipated, Madhavan Nair said, "...Only on-board cameras would look for the right location and once it matches, there are five rocket engines which will precisely control by first reducing the speed and then making it virtually float at that point and have some lateral movement in such a way that it goes just to the location, slowly guide it to the landing site".

To accomplish the mission successfully, different factors including the laser ranging systems, the software governing the entire operation and the onboard computers have to work in perfect coordination.

If everything goes well and when ISRO succeeds in soft-landing on the moon, India’s image will receive a boost in the international arena and proclaim to the whole world how a developing nation has perfected the native space technologies the country has developed.

Madhavan Nair concluded, “It will also drive home the message that Indian talent is second to none”, and "if given a vision and direction, ISRO can do it"

See also:
Chandrayaan 2 is not just looking for water on the moon

China’s lunar rover does what India’s Chandrayaan 2 is hoping to do on the Moon’s South Pole

Chandrayaan 2 will give India bragging rights even if it doesn’t find water