Chandrayaan-2: India's Orbiter-Lander-Rover Mission

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Editor's note: India has successfully launched the Chandrayaan-2 mission on July 22, 2019. The mission will send an orbiter, lander and rover to explore the moon's south pole. Chandrayaan-2's Vikram lander is expected to land around Sept. 6. Read our full wrap story: India Launches Ambitious Mission to Land at the Moon's South Pole

Chandrayaan-2 is India's planned second mission to the moon, which is expected to launch in 2019. It is a follow-up mission from the Chandrayaan-1 mission that assisted in confirming the presence of water/hydroxyl on the moon in 2009. Chandrayaan-2 will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket.

According to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the new mission will consist of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The orbiter will perform mapping from an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles), while the lander will make a soft landing on the surface and send out the rover.

Initially, ISRO planned to partner with Russia to perform Chandrayaan-2. The two agencies signed an agreement in 2007 to launch the orbiter and lander in 2013. Russia later pulled out of the agreement, however, according to a news report from The Hindu. The Russian lander's construction was delayed after the December 2011 failure of Roscosmos' Phobos-Grunt mission to the Martian moon of Phobos, the report stated. 

Russia subsequently pulled out of Chandrayaan-2 altogether, citing financial issues. Some reports stated that NASA and the European Space Agency were interested in participating, but ISRO proceeded with the mission on its own.

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will circle the moon and provide information about its surface, ISRO stated. "The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice," ISRO said on its website. The mission will also send a small, 20-kilogram (44 lbs.), six-wheeled rover to the surface; the rover will move semi-autonomously, examining the lunar regolith's composition.

This is the list of instruments on the orbiter, according to the Planetary Society: