Chennai: Carrying hopes of 1.24 billion Indians, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 scripted history by successfully soft-landing on the moon`s south pole, propelling the country to an exclusive club of four and making it the first country to land on the uncharted lunar surface. In a big boost to India’s space prowess, the LM comprising the lander (Vikram) and the 26 kg rover (Pragyan), made the soft landing near the south polar region of the Moon at 6.04 PM, less than a week after a similar Russian lander crashed.
With this touchdown on the moon in the second attempt in four years, India has become the fourth country to master the technology of soft-landing on the lunar surface after the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union. Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and its objectives are to demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, roving on the Moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments.
The image captured by the
Landing Imager Camera
after the landing.
It shows a portion of Chandrayaan-3’s landing site. Seen also is a leg and its accompanying shadow.
Chandrayaan-2 had failed in its lunar phase when its lander ‘Vikram’ crashed into the surface of the Moon minutes before the touchdown following anomalies in the braking system in the lander while attempting a landing on September 7, 2019. Chandrayaan’s maiden mission was in 2008.
The Rs 600 crore Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched on July 14 onboard Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM-3) rocket, for a 41-day voyage to reach near the lunar south pole. The soft-landing took place days after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon after spinning out of control.
The lander and the six-wheeled rover (with a total mass of 1,752 kg) are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period (about 14 Earth days). The lander with four legs, had multiple sensors to ensure a safe touchdown, including an accelerometer, altimeters, Doppler velocimeter, inclinometer, touchdown sensor, and a suite of cameras for hazard avoidance and positional knowledge.
The lander carries the rover in a compartment with a ramp for deployment onto the surface.
What Will The Rover Do In The Next 14 Days?
Chandrayaan-3’s soft-landing achieved, the rover module will now embark on its 14-day assignment to carry out the tasks mandated by the ISRO scientists. Its duties include experiments to further understand the lunar surface. With ‘Vikram’ Lander having done its job by ensuring a safe touchdown, the most challenging part of the mission, rover ‘Pragyan’ which is in the belly of LM is slated to come out to carry out a series of experiments on the surface of the Moon later.
According to ISRO, the Lander and the Rover have five scientific payloads that have been placed inside the Lander Module (LM). Rover’s Alpha Particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) will be used to derive the chemical composition and infer mineralogical composition to further enhance the understanding of the lunar surface.
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) will determine the elemental composition of the lunar soil and rocks around the Moon’s landing site. The deployment of Rover to carry out in-situ scientific experiments would scale new heights in lunar expeditions, ISRO said. The Mission life of both Lander and Rover is 1 Lunar Day each, which is equal to 14 Earth days.
The Lander Payloads are RAMBHA-LP (Langmuir Probe), to measure the near-surface plasma (ions and electrons) density and its changes with time ChaSTE Chandra’s Surface Thermo Physical Experiment will carry out the measurements of thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region.
The Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) will measure the seismicity around the landing site and delineate the structure of the lunar crust and mantle.
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