Chandrayaan 3: Five hurdles India’s third lunar mission overcame so far

The world awaits Chandrayaan-3’s historic landing on the Moon’s south pole on Wednesday. After Russia’s Luna 25 crash, people across the globe hope that everything goes as planned with Chandrayaan-3 when it will attempt its soft landing. Till now, the spacecraft and all the systems are working perfectly and ISRO says no contingencies are anticipated on Wednesday.

An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket carrying the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft lifting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of southern Andhra Pradesh state on July 14.(AFP)

From the day of its launch on July 14, the spacecraft successfully carried out all the steps that placed it closer to the Moon. The crucial steps involved entering the Moon’s orbit, followed by carrying out manoeuvres and then the separation of the Propulsion Module and Lander Module.

Here are five hurdles that Chandrayaan-3 overcame during its journey so far:

July 14: LVM3 M4 vehicle successfully launched Chandrayaan-3 into orbit. Chandrayaan-3, in its precise orbit, began its journey to the Moon.

July 15: The first orbit-raising maneuver (Earthbound firing-1) successfully performed at ISTRAC/ISRO, Bengaluru. Spacecraft was in 41762 km x 173 km orbit.

August 1: The spacecraft was inserted into the translunar orbit. The orbit achieved was 288 km x 369328 km. Lunar-Orbit Insertion (LOI) was planned for August 5.

August 5: Chandrayaan-3 successfully inserted into the lunar orbit. The orbit achieved was 164 km x 18074 km, as intended.

August 17: Lander Module (LM) was successfully separated from the Propulsion Module (PM).

What will happen after landing?

The Propulsion Module which will remain in Moon’s orbit for months or years, has an attached payload known as the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE), to study Earth’s spectral and polarimetric measurements from the moon’s orbit. Simply put, SHAPE will analyse certain signatures of Earth’s light.

Study of the lunar surface by payloads

Once the Lander Module reaches the Moon’s surface, the lander Vikram will deploy its payloads. These include Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) for measuring temperature and thermal conductivity. Another payload, the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), will measure seismic activity around the landing site. The Langmuir Probe (LP) will estimate plasma density and changes. A passive Laser Retroreflector Array from NASA will be used for lunar laser studies.

Role of Pragyan rover

The rover Pragyan will carry an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) to determine the elements in the landing site’s vicinity.

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