Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO

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Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Vikram, Chandrayaan 2's lander, will be attempting to soft land on the lunar surface on 7 September 2019ISRO

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan believes Chandrayaan 2’s soft landing on the Moon will be the ‘most terrifying’ 15 minutes for the agency.
  • Chandrayaan 2’s lander, Vikram, is going to be landing in uncharted territory between two craters.
  • Only 33% of all soft landing attempts on the Moon has been successful.
  • Israel was the most recent country to attempt a landing on the Moon but crashed into the lunar surface instead.
Over the last two weeks, Chandrayaan 2 has been inching closer to the Moon. On 2 September 2019, the lander — Vikram — detached itself from the orbiter to start heading towards the Moon’s South Pole.

On 7 September 2019, Vikram will finally attempt to soft land on the lunar surface. It will the southernmost landing on the Moon in human history.

But, it won’t be easy.
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Here’s why Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan believes that it will be the ‘most terrifying’ 15 minutes for the team on the ground:

Chandrayaan 2 has to pull off a landing in uncharted territory

Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Chandrayaan 2 landing siteISRO

No other country has ever been to this far south on the Moon before. The lunar South Pole, unlike its northern counterpart, has an abundance of craters.

The craters may hold the key to a lot of unanswered questions about the Moon but they also make for a treacherous landing site. The probability of obstacles getting in the way is much higher.

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Only 33% of attempted soft landing on the Moon have been successful
Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Israel‘s first attempt at landing an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon, Beresheet, ended in a hard landingafter an engine failure caused it to miss its descent windowSpaceIL

There have been 38 attempts to land on the moon but only 33% of those have actually been successful.

Israel was the most recent country to attempt a landing on the Moon but crashed into the lunar surface instead. SpaceIL is already working on its second attempt with Beresheet 2 spacecraft.

Only three countries have ever successfully landed on the Moon

Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Image of the moon taken by China's lunar rover on the far side of the MoonChina National Space Administration

US, Russia and China are the only countries to have successfully soft landed on the Moon so far. China’s milestone was being the first country to land on the far side of the moon.

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If India is successful, it will join their league and be the first country to land near the Moon’s South Pole.

Chandrayaan 2 has a back up plan

Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Mazinus C crater near the Moon's South PoleWikimedia

Vikram, Chandrayaan’s lander, is planning to land in flat region between the Manzimus C and Simplelius N craters.

The primary site for landing Vikram is 70.9 degrees south and 22.7 degrees east. In case the site is not optimal when the lander reaches, ISRO has a secondary landing site around 1.6 kilometers away — but it will only have mere seconds to rise and move over to the new spot.

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Nailing the landing

Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Chandrayaan 2's lander needs to land perfectly in order to not tip overISRO

Vikram has to be at an exact angle of 12 degrees as it descends onto the Moon. Anything less or more could result in Vikram rolling over as it touches down.

If Vikram doesn’t stand in an upright position, it won’t be able to deploy its instruments or let Pragyaan, the rover, out to roam the Moon’s surface.

Is the lander strong enough?

Here's why Chandrayaan 2's soft landing on the Moon will be the '15 most terrifying minutes' for ISRO
Vikram lander has been tested and approved to be fit enough for the missionISRO

One of the reasons of Chandrayaan 2’s many delayed launched was injuries to Vikram’s legs during one of the tests.

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ISRO later confirmed that the lander was fit and had passed all the necessary tests and parameters for the mission.

See also:
India's second moon mission Chandrayaan 2 that will cost ₹10 billion will break new records

India’s second mission to the moon will use these 14 high-tech instruments to look for water
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India's Chandrayaan 2 takes the lead ahead of America, Russia, and China as the first of many missions to the Moon's South Pole



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