Countdown Begins! Chandrayaan-3 Prepares for Gentle Touchdown on Lunar Terrain
ISRO's ambitious third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, is preparing to achieve a historic soft landing on the Moon's surface. Scheduled for Wednesday evening, the mission aims to land near the lunar south pole and make India the first nation to explore this uncharted region. Comprising a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan, the mission seeks to succeed after Chandrayaan-2's failed attempt in 2019. Successful landing would make India the fourth country, after the US, China, and the Soviet Union, to achieve lunar soft landing technology.
Chandrayaan-3 is a continuation of Chandrayaan-2, with objectives including demonstrating safe and gentle lunar landing, conducting in-situ scientific experiments, and exploring the lunar surface with the rover. Chandrayaan-2's lander, Vikram, had previously failed to land as intended due to anomalies in its braking system.
The soft landing process, often referred to as the "17 minutes of terror," involves complex calculations, autonomous actions, and careful engine firings to navigate the descent and avoid obstacles. After the landing, the rover Pragyan will be deployed to study the Moon's surface and conduct experiments.
While the lunar day lasts around 14 Earth days, the lander and rover will strive to maximize their mission time. Chandrayaan-3 carries scientific payloads to study the lunar surface's composition, thermal properties, seismic activity, and more.
The mission's landing site selection at the lunar south pole aims to explore unique and unexplored terrain, including areas where water might be present. The communication link established between Chandrayaan-3's lander module and Chandrayaan-2's orbiter provides additional channels for ground controllers to communicate with the mission.
ISRO's Chairman, S Somanath, highlighted the design adjustments made for Chandrayaan-3 based on lessons learned from Chandrayaan-2's failure. The meticulous approach involves planning for various failure scenarios to ensure a successful landing.
Chandrayaan-3 underwent several orbit reduction maneuvers before the successful separation of its lander and propulsion modules in preparation for the landing. The mission has advanced toward its goal since its launch on July 14, 2023.
Ultimately, the success of Chandrayaan-3's landing will mark a significant milestone in India's space exploration journey, demonstrating the nation's technological prowess and expanding our understanding of the Moon's mysteries.