Photo Credit: NASA
Chandrayaan-2, India's historic Moon mission, will attempt in the early hours of Saturday to reach its desired conclusion: land on the lunar surface. It's taken over six weeks to get there, thanks to the more fuel-efficient slingshot technique used by Chandrayaan-2, which meant it spent three weeks orbiting the Earth before launching itself towards the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 then took a week to reach the Moon, before inserting itself into the lunar orbit, where it's been ever since. Vikram — Chandrayaan-2's lander, named after the “father of the Indian space programme” Vikram Sarabhai — detached itself from the orbiter at the start of this week, and will try to land in the Moon's south polar region after midnight Friday IST. If you're interested in watching the Chandrayaan-2 Moon landing live, here's what you need to know.
Naturally, ISRO — India's space agency that's behind Chandrayaan-2 — is hosting its own live stream of the Vikram lander's Moon landing attempt. The ISRO Chandrayaan-2 live stream will go live at 1:10am IST on Saturday, September 7 on ISRO's official YouTube channel. (Or you can simply use the embed below.) ISRO says the Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram will attempt a powered descent towards the Moon between 1-2am IST, before attempting a touchdown between 1:30-2:30am IST. If it's successful, Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country to soft land on the Moon after the Soviet Union, the US, and China.
It will also be the southernmost lunar landing of all time. There's a reason that ISRO is attempting that, because the primary objective of the Chandrayaan-2 mission is to study lunar water. The south pole of the Moon has a much higher occurrence of water ice because of craters whose interiors aren't hit by near-constant sunlight, as opposed to the north pole of the Moon. (That's lunar trivia for you. Try not to brag in front of others.)
Of course, ISRO's YouTube channel isn't the only way to watch the Chandrayaan-2 moon landing live. India's public broadcaster Doordarshan is also hosting its own live stream on its Doordarshan National YouTube channel. (Again, there's an embed below.) That one kicks off 10 minutes earlier at 1am IST on Saturday, September 7. You might get to see 10 extra minutes of the lander Vikram's descent, or you might not. We can't say.
If you're really excited about the Chandrayaan-2 Moon landing and would also like a pre-show, Hotstar has you covered. National Geographic has roped in former NASA astronaut Jerry M. Linenger — he flew aboard the US Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1997 and lived on the Russian Space Station Mir for over four months — to serve as an expert voice for their coverage of Chandrayaan-2 landing. The programme will begin broadcast at 11:30pm IST on Friday, September 6 on Hotstar, Nat Geo India, and Star Plus.
Should the Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram manage an ideal landing, ISRO plans to roll out the Pragyan lunar rover — that's the thing that will actually make those aforementioned observations — a few hours later. ISRO says that the Chandrayaan-2 rover Pragyan will roll out between 5:30-6:30am IST on September 7. Though its YouTube channel makes no mention of it, you can expect it — and Doordarshan — to broadcast the rover exit part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission as well.
The Pragyan lunar rover will then move around the Moon for one lunar day. If you think that's too short, well, one lunar day is equal to 14 Earth days. (Science!) The reason Pragyan will only work for 14 days is because its electronics can't take too much of the lunar night, where average temperatures are –13 °C and can drop down to –250 °C inside certain craters. Moreover, because of the way the Moon is locked around the Earth, days and nights last two weeks at any given point on its surface.