India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), continues to make strides in space exploration. In order to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and wandering on the lunar surface, Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-up mission to Chandrayaan-2. It is configured with Landers and Rovers. LVM3 launched it from SDSC SHAR in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on 14th July 2023.
Let’s delve into 10 fascinating facts about Chandrayaan-3 and its significance.
- Collaborative Efforts: Chandrayaan-3 is a joint effort between ISRO and the Russian Space Agency ROSCOSMOS. This collaboration demonstrates international cooperation in the field of space exploration and leverages the expertise of both nations.
- Focus on Landing: Unlike Chandrayaan-2, which consisted of an orbiter, Lander (Vikram), and Rover (Pragyan), Chandrayaan-3 will be solely focused on the lander and rover components. This mission’s primary goal is to achieve a soft landing on the Moon’s surface which it did on 23th August 2023.
- Rover Pragyan Returns: Chandrayaan-3’s rover, named Pragyan, is a refined version of the rover that was part of Chandrayaan-2 mission. It’s equipped with scientific instruments to analyse the lunar soil and gather valuable data about the Moon’s composition.
- Lander Adaption: The lander component of Chandrayaan-3 is adapted from the Chandrayaan-2 lander module. This adaption allows ISRO to capitalise on existing technology while addressing the challenges faced during the landing attempt of Chandrayaan-2.
- Technological Improvements: Chandrayaan-3 incorporates lessons learned from Chandrayaan-2’s landing setback. ISRO has worked on refining the landing mechanisms and ensuring a smooth descent to the lunar surface.
- Aimed for Precision: The Chandrayaan-3 mission targeted a high-precision landing in the unexplored region near the Moon’s south pole. This area is of particular interest due to the presence of water ice in permanently shadowed craters. Till now no country has ever attempted a soft landing in the unexplored south pole. The success of soft landing opens new chapters for India.
- Advancing Lunar Research: Chandrayaan-3’s mission objectives include further exploration of the Moon’s geology, understanding its surface composition, and analysing the potential presence of water ice. The data gathered will contribute to our knowledge of lunar evolution and provide insights into the Moon’s history.
- Heavyweight: The Vikram lander weighs 1749.86 kg, including the rover’s 26 kg, equipped with its four landing legs and four landing thrusters. Accordingly, the landing module on the Moon weighs roughly 2800 kg. This made the landing for ISRO considerably more difficult, but it was accomplished.
- Looking for space fuel: The Pragyan rover will be searching for Helium-3 or He-3, which might be utilised as fuel for extremely cool nuclear fusion reactions, in addition to looking for water ice on the Moon. The same fusion process that drives the Sun and other stars can be used to provide a nearly endless supply of clean energy on Earth without producing any radioactive waste.
- India’s lander is less likely to fail: The soft landing on the south pole of the Moon is a challenging task. However, ISO chief S. Somnath revealed a clever strategy to make sure Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander sticks to the landing. Even if its sensors or engines decide to act up, they’ve got a plan to handle it like a pro.
“The entire design of the lander has been made in a manner that makes sure that it would be able to handle failures”, The ISRO chief said.
“If everything fails, if all the sensors fail, nothing works, still Vikram will make a landing. That’s how it has been designed – provided that the propulsion system works well”, Somnath said.
With the aim of researching and showcasing new technology necessary for interplanetary missions, Chandrayaan-3 is made up of an indigenous Lander module (LM), Propulsion module (PM), and Rover. The Lander did the soft landing at a chosen location on the moon and released the Rover, which will conduct in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface while it is moving. There are scientific payloads on the Lander and the Rover that will conduct lunar surface tests. The main job of PM is to transport the LM from injection into the launch vehicle to the final 100 km circular polar orbit and then to release the LM from PM. The lander and rover configuration are propelled by the propulsion module up to a 100 kilometre lunar orbit. To examine the spectral and Polarimetric data of Earth from the lunar orbit, the propulsion module is equipped with the Spectro-Polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload.
The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are:
- To demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on the 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.
Chandrayaan-3 signifies India’s determination to excel in space exploration and contribute to our understanding of celestial bodies. The world witnessed the successful soft landing of the rover Pragyan on 23th August 2023 at 6:04 PM. With its collaborative efforts, technological advancements, and focus on precision, Chandrayaan-3 opened a new chapter in India’s space odyssey, further establishing the nation’s prowess in the realm of space research.
Each member of Jharkhand Rai University feels proud and congratulates the whole team of ISRO for the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3.
Chandrayaan-3 teaches us that failures are not setbacks but stepping stones to success.