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“India, I reached my destination and you too!’: Chandrayaan-3.” Chandrayaan-3 has successfully soft landed on the Moon.
Chandrayaan-3 is the third and most recent Indian lunar exploration mission under the Chandrayaan programme of ISRO. On August 23, 2023, the lander and rover made a landing in the vicinity of the lunar south pole. Like the Chandrayaan-2, it comprises of a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan. The powered descent took place on August 23, 2023, at around 5:45 p.m. IST, and the touchdown took place at around 6:02 p.m. IST. As a result, India became the fourth country to ever land on the Moon and the first nation to safely land a spacecraft on the lunar south pole region.
Chandrayaan-3 was launched on July 14, 2023, at 2:35 IST. The Chandrayaan-3 mission is the follow-up to the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission, which ended in a lunar surface crash with the Vikram lander. Its propulsion system performs orbital functions. Showcase the space agency’s ability to carry out a soft landing on the Moon is the mission’s main goal. With the mission, India has become a member of a select group of nations that have accomplished a soft landing on the moon.
All About Chandrayaan-3
After a 40-day journey starting from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 mission has landed successfully. The Vikram lander made a soft lunar landing at 6.04 PM IST on August 23.
The objective is to deploy a lander and rover on the lunar surface and keep them there for around 14 Earth days, or one lunar day. The diminutive rover, which only weighs 26 kilogrammes (57 pounds), was carried by the lander to the Moon. Both vehicles have scientific equipment for studying the surface. Of considerable significance is the prospect that if the lander achieves a ‘soft landing’ on the moon’s south pole, India will stand as the sole country to accomplish this feat. Following a successful landing, the rover, a small vehicle designed for lunar surface mobility, will disembark from the lander.
Chandrayaan-3: The Mission
On July 14, when Chandrayaan-3 embarked on its journey to the moon. The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander and rover are conceptually identical to those from Chandrayaan-2. The Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander successfully descended to a distance of 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the Moon in September 2019 and switched to “fine braking” mode, which would have gently lowered it to the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-2, like its predecessor, was aiming for the south polar region of the Moon, where ice has been discovered inside craters that are always in shadow.
Vikram unfortunately drifted off course due to a technical error, and ISRO officials lost communication with the spacecraft. Later, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered the vehicle’s wreckage dispersed 750 metres (a half mile) away from the designated landing site.
- Propulsion module: Carries lander and rover to 100-by-100-kilometre (62 mi × 62 mi) orbit, with operation of experimental payload for up to six months.
- Lander module: 1 lunar daylight period (14 Earth days)
- Rover module: 1 lunar daylight period (14 Earth days)
Chandrayaan-3 was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India. The spacecraft entered lunar orbit on 5 August 2023, with an expected landing near the lunar South Pole on 23 August.
The ISRO performed a lunar-orbit insertion (LOI), successfully placing the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into orbit around the Moon on 5 August. LOI operation was carried out from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) located in Bengaluru. After a series of lunar-bound maneuvers, the Vikram lander separated from the propulsion module to begin the last phase of the mission on 17 August.
The LVM-III Launch Vehicle will carry out the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s space launch. The spacecraft will progressively raise its orbit after launching into an orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 179 km in a series of movements to escape the gravity of the Earth and slingshot towards the moon. The spaceship will need to be pulled into the moon’s gravity after getting close to it.
Any space mission essentially has two parts – the rocket, or the carrier, and the spacecraft, which could be a satellite or any other payload. The rocket has the limited job of transporting the spacecraft into space. In most missions, the rockets get destroyed after completing their job. The spacecraft continues to operate as designed.
The Pragyan rover is a six-wheeled vehicle with a mass of 26 kilograms (57 pounds). It is 917 millimetres (3.009 ft) x 750 millimetres (2.46 ft) x 397 millimetres (1.302 ft) in size. The rover is expected to take multiple measurements to support research into the composition of the lunar surface, the presence of water ice in the lunar soil, the history of lunar impacts, and the evolution of the Moon’s atmosphere.
The rover has two payloads:
- Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS): Determines the chemical and mineralogical composition of the surface.
- Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS): Determines the elemental composition of the surface. ISRO specifically mentions magnesium, aluminum, silicon, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron as elements the rover will hunt.
The Vikram lander is responsible for the soft landing on the Moon. It is also box-shaped, with four landing legs and four landing thrusters capable of producing 800 newtons of thrust each. It carries the rover and various scientific instruments to perform on-site analysis. And the lander for Chandrayaan-3 has four variable-thrust engines with slew rate changing capabilities, unlike Chandrayaan-2’s lander, which had five, with the fifth one being centrally mounted and capable only of fixed thrust. One of the main reasons for Chandrayaan-2’s landing failure was attitude increase during the camera coasting phase. Additionally, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is equipped with a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) to allow measuring attitude in 3 directions
The lander has four payloads:
- Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA): To measure the near surface plasma (ions and electrons) density and its changes with time.
- Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE): To carry out the measurements of thermal properties of lunar surface near polar region.
- Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA): Measures seismic activity at the landing site in order to delineate the subsurface crust and mantle.
- Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA): A NASA-provided retroreflector that allows for lunar ranging studies. Laser ranging is the process of zapping a reflector with a laser and measuring the time it takes for the signal to bounce back. NASA still measures the distance to the Moon using retroreflectors left behind during the Apollo program.
The propulsion module carries the lander and rover configuration to a 100 kilometres (62 mi) lunar orbit. It is a box-like structure with a large solar panel mounted on one side and a cylindrical mounting structure for the lander (the Intermodular Adapter Cone) on top.
- Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE): Future discoveries of smaller planets in reflected light would allow us to probe into variety of Exo-planets which would qualify for habitability (or for presence of life).
After a series of earth bound manoeuvres that placed Chandrayaan-3 in a trans-lunar injection orbit, ISRO performed a lunar-orbit insertion (LOI) on 5 August, successfully placing the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into an orbit around the Moon. The LOI operation was carried out from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru. The Vikram lander separated from the propulsion module to begin the last phase of the mission on 17 August.
- The budget for Chandrayaan 3 is about Rs. 615 crore which is quite less in comparison with the other lunar missions
- The cost of Chandrayaan 2, including the orbiter, lander, rover, navigation, and ground network, as well as the heavy rocket, was estimated at Rs 978 crore.
- Chandrayaan-1, the inaugural Indian deep space mission, was launched to orbit and impact the Moon. It cost Rs 386 crore (US $48 million) and was launched in October 2008.
Chandrayaan-3: Mission objectives
- To demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on Lunar Surface
- To demonstrate Rover roving on the moon and
- To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.
To achieve the mission objectives, several advanced technologies are present in Lander such as,
- Altimeters: Laser & RF based Altimeters
- Velocimeters: Laser Doppler Velocimeter & Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera
- Inertial Measurement: Laser Gyro based Inertial referencing and Accelerometer package
- Propulsion System: 800N Throttleable Liquid Engines, 58N attitude thrusters & Throttleable Engine Control Electronics
- Navigation, Guidance & Control (NGC): Powered Descent Trajectory design and associate software elements
- Hazard Detection and Avoidance: Lander Hazard Detection & Avoidance Camera and Processing Algorithm
- Landing Leg Mechanism.
To demonstrate the above said advanced technologies in earth condition, several Lander special tests have been planned and carried out successfully viz.
- Integrated Cold Test – For the demonstration of Integrated Sensors & Navigation performance test using helicopter as test platform
- Integrated Hot test – For the demonstration of closed loop performance test with sensors, actuators and NGC using Tower crane as test platform
- Lander Leg mechanism performance test on a lunar simulant test bed simulating different touch down conditions.
How did Chandrayaan-3 get to the lunar surface?
From liftoff to touchdown, it took about 40 days to place Chandrayaan-3 on the lunar surface. The mission began on July 14, 2023 with a launch aboard India’s LVM3 rocket, the country’s heavy lift vehicle capable of placing about 8 metric tons into low-Earth orbit. (For comparison, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket can lift almost 23 metric tons to low-Earth orbit.)
The LVM3 placed the spacecraft and an attached propulsion module into an elongated Earth orbit with an apogee, or high point, of about 36,500 kilometers (22,700 miles) above the planet. The propulsion module raised its orbit several times before transferring into lunar orbit.
At the Moon, the propulsion module lowered Chandrayaan-3 until it reached a circular, 100-kilometer (62-mile) orbit. There, the two vehicles separated, leaving the lander to deorbit and touch down in the Moon’s south polar region. At the moment of contact, the lander was expected to move less than 2 meters per second vertically, and 0.5 meters per second horizontally (6.5 and 1.6 feet per second, respectively).
Chandrayaan-3: In The Moon
A successful touchdown marked a huge achievement for ISRO, placing them in a small group of nations that have landed spacecraft on other worlds. Beyond this milestone, Chandrayaan-3 has technologies to demonstrate and science to perform.
Shortly after landing, one side panel of the Chandrayaan-3 lander will unfold, creating a ramp for the rover. The rover will emerge from the lander’s belly, drive down the ramp, and begin exploring the lunar environment.
The solar-powered lander and rover will have about two weeks to study their surroundings. They are not designed to survive the chilly lunar night. The rover can only communicate with the lander, which communicates directly with Earth. ISRO says the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter can also be used as a contingency communications relay.
Chandrayaan-3: Historic Leap
India on August 23, 2023 scripted history with the successful soft landing of its lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole region of the Moon. With this achievement, India has become the first country to land on the Moon’s challenging south pole region. The space agency Isro announced the landing and wrote, “India, I reached my destination and you too!’: Chandrayaan-3.”
India’s milestone comes midway through a big year for the country on the international stage. Indian Space Research Organisation’s moon lander Chandrayaan-3 touched down on the Moon’s surface on Wednesday making India the fourth country in the world to achieve this feat and the first country to reach the Moon’s south pole.
A wave of celebration has taken over the country as anxious scientists at ISRO and Indians across watched the Chandrayaan-3’s descent to the Moon. The nation surpassed China as the world’s most populous earlier in 2023 With nuclear-armed India emerging as the world’s fifth-largest economy last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist government is eager to showcase India’s rising standing as a technology and space powerhouse.
Chandrayaan-3 Landing Time
- India’s lunar mission approaches a crucial phase as Vikram Lander prepares for a soft landing around 6:04 pm, releasing Pragyan rover.
- Vikram Lander currently sits 25 km from the Moon’s nearest point and 134 km from the farthest, signifying steady progress.
- After the previous lunar mission’s setback, ISRO exercises extra caution, addressing risks and aiming to avoid a repeat of history.
Why Moon’s south pole is Important?
- The lunar South Pole region holds particular interest for scientific exploration due to studies that show large amounts of ice there. Mountainous terrain and unpredictable lighting conditions not only protect the ice from melting, but also make landing scientific probes there a challenging undertaking.
- This ice could contain solid-state compounds that would normally melt under warmer conditions elsewhere on the Moon, compounds which could provide insight into lunar, Earth, and Solar System history.
- Chandrayaan-3 targets the lunar South Pole due to the significance of water ice in craters, essential for both research and future crewed missions.
- Unexposed to sunlight, the craters’ frozen water, dating back billions of years, may hold insights into the early solar system’s conditions.
- Water presence on the Moon is vital for potential future human missions, making the lunar South Pole exploration pivotal.
- Unlike previous missions, Chandrayaan-3’s focus on the Moon’s South Pole promises novel insights into lunar water exploration.
- The Moon’s south pole resembles Earth’s diverse environments, enabling researchers to glean ancient Earth insights and assess lunar colonization prospects.
Chandrayaan-3: Over All Specifications
|1.||Mission Life (Lander & Rover)||One lunar day (~14 Earth days)|
|2.||Landing Site (Prime)||4 km x 2.4 km 69.367621 S, 32.348126 E|
|4.||Two Module Configuration||
|9.||Lander Actuators||Reaction wheels – 4 nos (10 Nms & 0.1 Nm)|
|10.||Lander Propulsion System||Bi-Propellant Propulsion System (MMH + MON3), 4 nos. of 800 N Throttleable engines & 8 nos. of 58 N; Throttleable Engine Control Electronics|
|12.||Lander Touchdown specifications||
Q. Did Chandrayaan 3 land on moon safely?
Ans: Chandrayaan 3 Lander Makes A Successful And Safe Soft Landing.
Ans: Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India becomes the first and only country to land on Moon’s South Pole.
Q. Which moon mission was successful?
Ans: Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) third Moon Mission Chandrayaan 3 has successfully landed on the moon on 23rd August 2023. With this moon mission, India created history as India became the first country to successfully reach the moon’s south pole.
Q. How did Chandrayaan-3 successful?
Ans: It enabled Vikram LM to take charge and use its on-board computers and logic to identify a favourable spot and make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.
Q. Who designed Chandrayaan-3?
Ans: Chandrayaan-3 is developed by Indian space Research Organization (ISRO).
Q. Who is leading Chandrayaan-3 mission?
Ans: The mission director for LVM3-M4/Chandrayaan 3 is S Mohana Kumar, a senior scientists from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Earlier he was served as the director for the successful commercial launch of the One Web India 2 satellites on board the LVM3-M3 mission.