Update 80, Behind India’s Chandrayaan 3 Mission

Away we go!

India’s Momentous Launch: Chandrayaan-3 Blasts Off atop LVM3 Rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The rocket roared skyward, carrying an uncrewed lander-rover duo and India’s aspirations. Chandrayaan-3 separated successfully, commencing its fuel-efficient voyage to the moon. India aims to join the elite League of Nations landing on the lunar surface, following the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.

As scheduled, approximately 16 minutes after liftoff, Chandrayaan-3 detached from the LVM3 rocket and entered Earth’s orbit.

The designated landing zone for the mission spans 2.5 miles by 1.5 miles (4 by 2.5 km) and is located at 69.367621 south latitude and 32.348126 east longitude. Interestingly, this area coincides with the intended touchdown site of Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft, scheduled for launch in August. The lunar south pole has become a significant area of interest in space exploration due to the belief that it contains ample water ice. Scientists think this resource can be extracted for rocket fuel and play a vital role in life support systems, making it an enticing prospect for establishing moon bases.

However, unlike more accessible equatorial regions where sunlight is abundant for solar-powered spacecraft, the south polar areas receive sunlight at low angles, leading to long shadows that pose challenges for safe landings.

To address the challenges of landing, ISRO scientists have placed their trust in a cutting-edge algorithm integrated into Chandrayaan-3’s software. Unlike Chandrayaan-2, which interpreted speed from static images, this new technology enables Chandrayaan-3 to estimate spacecraft speed in real-time during its descent towards the lunar surface.

Furthermore, the lander, named Vikram (Sanskrit for “valor”), has undergone enhancements in its legs to withstand a slightly higher landing speed. Additionally, the potential touchdown area for the spacecraft has been significantly expanded, providing some margin for error and ultimately improving the mission’s chances of success.

credits: ISRO (www.isro.gov.in/chandrayaan3_gallery.html)

Assuming a successful touchdown, a six-wheeled rover called Pragyan (Sanskrit for “wisdom”) will roll off Vikram onto the lunar surface. Equipped with its own solar array and guided by cameras to navigate around obstacles, Pragyan is armed with a spectrometer to analyze lunar soil and rocks, as well as a laser-induced spectroscope to determine their chemical composition. Both the rover and lander are anticipated to operate for one lunar day, equivalent to about two Earth weeks, from sunrise to sunset on the moon.

Vikram carries an array of sophisticated instruments, including a seismometer to detect moonquakes, aiding in understanding the moon’s internal structure. For the first time, a thermometer-like instrument will penetrate the lunar soil to record its temperature. A plasma probe is onboard to study the plasma environment near the lunar surface. Additionally, NASA provided a retroreflector to delve into the dynamics of the moon system, as outlined in the mission plan.

Chandrayaan-3 serves as a remarkable demonstration of India’s homegrown technology, empowering the nation to engage in collaborative missions with countries worldwide in projects like LUPEX and NISAR.

Some More Updates:

  • NASA’s Janus asteroid mission has been temporarily halted as a launch delay has rendered the twin probes’ target systems inaccessible.
  • The Zhuque-2 rocket, developed by Chinese company Landspace, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first methane-fueled rocket to reach Earth orbit.
  • Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers traced an incredibly bright gamma-ray burst (GRB) to a violent collision between two neutron stars, known as a kilonova. This event is believed to be responsible for the creation of heavy elements like gold.