20th August 2023,Mumbai: Exploring the Moon’s Surface: Chandrayaan-3’s Critical Mission Phase
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) marked a significant step forward in India’s Moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, as the second and final de-boosting operation was successfully executed. This pivotal phase brings the spacecraft closer to its anticipated soft landing on the lunar surface, scheduled for Wednesday. ISRO’s scientists closely monitored the operation, heralding a historic moment for India’s space exploration endeavors.
Precise Lunar Orbit: Vikram’s Intricate Positioning
The lander module, Vikram, has positioned itself in a meticulously calculated lunar orbit. Its closest point to the Moon lies at a mere 25 km, while the farthest point extends to 134 km. This precise orbit is a crucial setup for the forthcoming soft landing attempt in the unexplored south polar region of the Moon, as announced by ISRO.
Vikram’s Autonomous Journey: Design and Adaptation
Vikram’s autonomous journey in the Moon’s orbit is a remarkable feat in itself. During the de-boosting operation, Vikram’s orbit was successfully reduced to 25 km x 134 km. ISRO revealed that Vikram had been carrying out its functions autonomously, basing decisions on its internal programming. Importantly, this mission maintains the same design as the Chandrayaan-2 lander, with corrections made to address issues faced during the previous mission.
Aiming for Lunar Glory: India’s Historic Landing Aspiration
India’s pursuit of becoming the fourth country to achieve a successful Moon landing is within reach. With Chandrayaan-3’s ongoing progress and ISRO’s meticulous preparations, the nation is on the cusp of etching its name in the annals of lunar exploration history.
Module Separation and Orbital Study: Post-Detachment Insights
Post separation from the propulsion module, which brought Vikram to the Moon from Earth, the lander shared its initial images of the Moon. The propulsion module continues to orbit Earth, poised to study the planet’s atmosphere and analyze light polarization from clouds. These continued observations hold the potential to contribute to a deeper understanding of Earth’s atmospheric dynamics.
Moon’s Surface Exploration: Pragyaan Rover’s Mission
Upon its landing on the Moon’s surface, Vikram will play a pivotal role in facilitating the mission of the Pragyaan rover. Designed to explore the chemical composition of the lunar surface and search for signs of water, the rover has a projected lifespan of one lunar day, equating to approximately 14 Earth days. This exploration could reveal critical insights about the Moon’s geological history and resource potential.
The Journey So Far: Chandrayaan-3’s Launch and Lunar Entry
Chandrayaan-3 embarked on its space journey on July 14, propelled into the cosmos by the LVM3 rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The spacecraft successfully entered the Moon’s orbit on August 5, bringing it closer to the anticipated moment of lunar contact.
Russian Lunar Mission: Luna-25’s Unexpected Setback
Amid India’s lunar endeavors, Russia’s Luna-25 mission experienced an unexpected setback. During a crucial maneuver, an emergency situation arose onboard the Luna-25 probe, preventing the intended operation from proceeding as planned. The probe, which marks Russia’s first lunar mission in nearly half a century, is positioned to land north of the Boguslawsky crater on the lunar south pole.
A Glimpse Into Lunar Exploration’s Future
As Chandrayaan-3’s intricate operations continue to unfold, India’s prowess in space exploration becomes ever more evident. With each successful phase, the nation inches closer to its goal of joining an exclusive group of countries that have successfully achieved a soft landing on the Moon. Additionally, Russia’s Luna-25 mission, despite encountering a setback, represents another stride forward in the collective pursuit of understanding our cosmic neighbor. These endeavors collectively reflect the dedication, innovation, and collaboration driving humanity’s exploration of the final frontier.
-by Kashvi Gala