Chandrayaan-3, India’s most recent lunar exploration mission, is poised to embark on its crucial final stage today, aiming for a gentle touchdown on the moon’s surface. This significant event comes 40 days after the spacecraft’s launch from India’s southern region.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to livestream the mission’s developments, commencing at 4:50 am PT on August 23 (5:20 pm IST). The landing attempt is scheduled for 5:34 am PT (6:04 pm IST).
ISRO confirmed the mission’s adherence to its timeline, assuring that regular checks have been conducted on its systems, indicating a smooth progress.
Launched in July via ISRO’s Launch Vehicle Mark-3 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota island, Chandrayaan-3 marks India’s third lunar expedition. The mission’s objective is to successfully land on the moon’s southern polar region, a far cry from the Earth-facing side. This locale holds the promise of unveiling crucial lunar secrets, including the potential presence of frozen water. Such a discovery could potentially support human habitation on the moon and even serve as fuel for future space mission to distant destinations.
Chandrayaan-3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, which encountered a crash during its 2019 moon landing attempt. ISRO has diligently addressed past challenges in the Chandrayaan-3 lander’s design, incorporating enhancements such as increased dispersion capacity, updated sensors, and refined software and propulsion systems. These modifications aim to minimize the likelihood of any setbacks this time around.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft comprises not only a lander but also a propulsion module and a rover. Interestingly, the rover is a mirror image of the one deployed in Chandrayaan-2.
Equipped with various sensors, including a seismometer, thermal probe, X-ray, and laser spectrometer, the spacecraft is also carrying a retroflector courtesy of NASA.
Recent images of the moon’s far side were released earlier this week by ISRO, captured by the Chandrayaan-3 lander known as Vikram. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, currently orbiting the moon, will play a vital role in establishing communication between the Chandrayaan-3 rover and Earth’s space station.
A successful Chandrayaan-3 mission would signify India’s achievement as the first nation to make a lunar landing at the south pole. Additionally, the mission’s success would elevate India to the ranks of the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China as the fourth country to achieve a soft moon landing. In a parallel endeavor this month, Russia launched its moon landing craft, Luna-25, in a bid to rival India’s efforts. However, the Russian spacecraft faced a mishap, colliding with the moon’s surface due to a loss of control.
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