India & ISRO has achieved a historic feat in its space program by launching its third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, on July 14, 2023. The mission aims to land a rover on the moon’s surface and conduct scientific experiments to study its geology, mineralogy and environment. If successful, India will become the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the moon, after the United States, Russia and China.
What is Chandrayaan-3?
Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar exploration mission, following Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2. Chandrayaan means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit. The mission consists of three components: a lander, a propulsion module and a rover. The lander is named Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program. The rover is named Pragyan, which means “wisdom” in Sanskrit.
The mission was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, using the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3), India’s most powerful rocket. The LVM3 lifted off at 2:30 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) and placed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into an Earth parking orbit.
The spacecraft will then perform a series of orbit-raising maneuvers to reach the lunar transfer trajectory, which will take it to the vicinity of the moon. After entering the lunar orbit, the spacecraft will separate from the propulsion module and perform a series of braking maneuvers to lower its altitude and prepare for landing.
The landing site chosen for Chandrayaan-3 is near the south pole of the moon, which is a region of scientific interest and potential resources. The landing is expected to take place by the end of August 2023. The lander will deploy the rover, which will roll out and explore the lunar terrain for about 14 Earth days (one lunar day). The rover will use its cameras, spectrometers and other instruments to collect data and send it back to the lander, which will relay it to Earth via the Indian Deep Space Network.
Why is Chandrayaan-3 important ISPRO?
Chandrayaan-3 is important for several reasons. First, it is a demonstration of India’s technological capabilities and aspirations in space exploration. India has been steadily developing its space program since the 1960s, launching satellites, probes and rockets for various purposes. In 2008, India became the first country to discover water molecules on the moon with its Chandrayaan-1 mission. In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to reach Mars with its Mangalyaan mission. Also In 2019, India attempted to land on the moon with its Chandrayaan-2 mission, but failed due to a technical glitch in the final moments.
Chandrayaan-3 is India’s second attempt at landing on the moon, and a sign of its resilience and determination to overcome challenges and learn from failures. The mission is also a source of pride and inspiration for millions of Indians, especially young students and scientists who aspire to pursue careers in space.
Second, Chandrayaan-3 is important for advancing scientific knowledge and exploration of the moon. The moon is our closest celestial neighbor and a natural laboratory for understanding the origin and evolution of our solar system. The south pole of the moon is particularly interesting because it has regions of permanent shadow that may harbor water ice and other volatiles that could be useful for future human missions. The south pole also has regions of near-permanent sunlight that could provide power for rovers and habitats.
Chandrayaan-3 will be one of the first missions to land near the south pole of the moon and explore its geology, mineralogy and environment with high-resolution cameras and spectrometers. The mission will also test new technologies such as variable thrust engines, hazard detection and avoidance systems, autonomous navigation and soft landing mechanisms that could pave the way for more complex missions in the future.
Third, Chandrayaan-3 is important for enhancing international cooperation and collaboration in space exploration. India has been working with various countries and agencies to share data and expertise for its lunar missions. For instance, Chandrayaan-3 carries four scientific payloads from NASA, ESA, JAXA and CNES that will complement ISRO’s own instruments. India has also signed agreements with Russia, France, Japan and Australia to cooperate on future lunar missions.
Chandrayaan-3 is an example of how countries can work together to achieve common goals and benefit from each other’s strengths in space exploration. The mission will also contribute to the global scientific community and the public by sharing its data and findings through open access platforms.
Chandrayaan-3 is a milestone for India’s lunar exploration and a testament to its space capabilities and ambitions. The mission will not only enhance India’s prestige and influence in the world, but also advance scientific knowledge and exploration of the moon. The mission will also foster international cooperation and collaboration in space exploration, and inspire future generations of space enthusiasts and professionals.