The Chandrayaan-2 mission would see the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft make a soft-landing on the moon’s South Pole 48 days from now, on September 7. Handout.

China’s lunar exploration program chief Wu Weiren wished India’s landing on the moon “a success despite previous delays,” after the South Asian country’s successful launch of a rocket carrying its latest generation of lunar probe Chandrayaan-2.

Wu made the statement on the sidelines of the 4th International Conference on Lunar and Deep Space Exploration which kicked off on Monday and is to be concluded on Wednesday in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, Global Times reported.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission lifted off from the Sriharikota launch range at its appointed time of 2.43 pm, The Indian Express reported.

The 10-billion rupee ($144.9 million) mission would see the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft make a soft-landing on the moon’s South Pole 48 days from now, on September 7.

Only the United States, Russia and China have been on the moon.

President of India Ram Nath Kovind was quoted in a report by the Indian news outlet The Hindu as saying that “Chandrayaan2 will be the first spacecraft to land close to the moon’s south pole in some 50 days from now. The mission is expected to lead to new discoveries and enrich our knowledge systems.”

International efforts to explore the moon, including made by the Israel and India, as well as the US which is determined to send its astronauts back to the moon within five years, will be pressuring and motivating China’s lunar probe missions to further develop, Wu noted.

“The international trend will not play a decisive role in China’s planning on its lunar missions, and China is not going to compete with any one over the matter,” Wu said. “China will pace itself against plans that have been already laid out in advance with each step surely achieving set goals.”

In addition to the rover and lander modules, the mission also has an Orbiter module that will go around the moon for the next one year in an orbit 100 km from the moon’s surface, The Indian Express reported.

During this time, the various instruments on board the Orbiter will study the moon’s surface, its atmosphere, prepare three-dimensional maps, and also search for evidence of water.

The polar regions of the moon are supposed to be filled with small and large craters, ranging from a few cm in size to those extending to several thousands of kilometres (these craters make it extremely hazardous for a spacecraft to land here), the report said.

This region is also extremely cold, with temperatures in the range of -200 degree Celsius.

Unlike the earth, the moon does not have tilt around its axis. It is almost erect, because of which some areas in the polar region never receive sunlight. Anything here remains frozen almost for eternity.

Scientists believe that rocks found in these craters could have fossil records that can reveal information about the early solar system. In addition, there is also evidence of large amounts of ice trapped in the craters of this region, the report said.

Chandrayaan-2 will spend the next 23 days circling around the earth, incrementally raising its orbit, before it would embark on a seven-day journey to enter an orbit around the moon.

The launch was originally scheduled for the early morning of July 15, but scientists noticed a sudden drop in pressure in a chamber filled with helium gas with about two hours to go. Unable to immediately ascertain the reason, and unwilling to take chances with the mission, they decided to abort the launch.

ISRO chief K Sivan credited the scientists who worked relentlessly over the past week to remove the technical glitch, the report said.

“After a major technical snag in the launch vehicle earlier, ISRO has come out with flying colours. Work done in the 24 hours after technical snag was mindboggling. In the following one-and-a-half days, we took corrective measures,” the space agency chief said.

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