Eight students from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) colleges along with a mentor from Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) left for a week-long trip to India today to witness the landing of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft on the southern side of the moon on September 7.

The landing will be witnessed from ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network) in Bengaluru.

Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the moon was launched on July 22.  The 20-kilogram six-wheeled Pragyaan rover is expected to land near the south pole of the Moon. The rover will study the composition of regolith, the mixture of tiny moon rocks and fine dust the blankets the Moon’s surface.

As of yesterday, Department of Space reported that the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter was continuing to orbit the Moon in its existing orbit.

The mission is a follow-up to Chadrayaan-1, which was launched in 2008 and confirmed the presence of water in the form of hydroxyl ions on the moon a year later.

The trip was arranged by the Indian Embassy and the Ministry of External Affairs to strengthen India-Bhutan cooperation in new areas of youth education in IT and space technologies.

The visit is expected to further strengthen the bilateral relations between both countries and bolster people-to-people links in space technology.

The team is joined by two students and a teacher from Motithang Higher Secondary School who welcomed and thanked Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during his address at the Convention Hall of the Royal University of Bhutan last month.

Students will visit the Energy Research Institute (TERI), Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru, Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya, and Nalanda University.

The final year student of civil engineering in Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Karma Thinley, said that he would use the lessons from trip to explore engineering and space technologies. “I am excited because it would help me in my future endeavors.”

The teacher escort from Motithang Higher Secondary School, Sonam Choden, said: “It is an honour for me to be given this opportunity. I am looking forward to be part of the landing of Chandrayaan-2 as it would enrich our knowledge on space technology.”

Students from the colleges were selected based on their academic and co-curricular performance.

Yesterday, the group met with the Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Ruchira Kamboj, at the Indian Embassy in Thimphu.

Choki Wangmo