The Chandrayaan-3 mission is now just hours from its goal – soft landing on the Moon – a feat allowing India to join an elite ‘space club’ that includes only the United States, Russia and China, so far. The country’s most ambitious space mission yet – the follow-up to Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2 – was launched into space on the back of a LVM 3 rocket on July 14 at 2.35 pm and entered lunar orbit on August 5, after a series of high-risk manoeuvres by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Three days ago ISRO successfully completed the second and final de-boosting operation and the Vikram lander settled into an orbit that keeps it between 25 and 134 km from the Moon. It is from this orbit ISRO will try a soft landing in the Moon’s unexplored south polar region.
All set to initiate the Automatic Landing Sequence (ALS).
Awaiting the arrival of Lander Module (LM) at the designated point, around 17:44 Hrs. IST.
Upon receiving the ALS command, the LM activates the throttleable engines for powered descent.
— ISRO (@isro) August 23, 2023
Chandrayaan-3’s objectives are to demonstrate it is possible to safely soft land on the Moon, to demonstrate movement of the rover, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments.
Chandrayaan-3 Mission Components
The Chandrayaan-3 mission consists of three components – the propulsion model, which carries the Vikram lander and the Pragyaan rover; the lander which will actually touch down on the Moon; and the rover, which will be deployed by the lander and will carry out the scientific experiments.
In addition to this, both Vikram and Pragyaan are carrying multiple payloads, including instruments to measure seismicity – the occurrence and frequency of earthquakes, or, in this case, lunar quakes – around the landing site.
In total, the lander and the rover are carrying six payloads (four in the lander, two in the rover), including a passive Laser Retroflector Array from the United States’ NASA (in the lander) that is meant to help in lunar laser ranging studies.
What After Vikram Lands On The Moon?
After the Vikram touches down on the lunar surface it will release the six-wheeled Pragyaan rover, which will be active on the Moon’s surface for at least 14 days.
Both Vikram and Pragyaan are fitted with multiple cameras and one of the early highlights of the successful Moon landing will be ‘selfies’ taken by the two Chandrayaan-3 modules.