India has triumphantly executed its lunar landing attempt, marking a monumental milestone. Chandrayaan-3, which translates to “mooncraft” in Sanskrit, has completed a lunar landing, making the country the first to reach the moon’s southern polar region.
The spacecraft successfully guided its Vikram lander to a touchdown at 4.34pm UAE time near the relatively unexplored lunar South Pole. This achievement sets a remarkable precedent in global space exploration, representing a world-first accomplishment for any space programme.
Following a previous unsuccessful endeavour in 2019, India’s latest mission takes centre stage just days after Russia’s moon mission — Luna 25 — which aimed for the same lunar region, ended in a crash landing.
India’s journey to the moon
The mission, launched nearly six weeks prior, garnered enthusiastic support from thousands of spectators. Differing from the rapid timelines of the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, India’s journey to the moon required an extended period due to the utilisation of less powerful rockets than those employed by the US at that time.
By adopting an orbit-around-Earth strategy, the spacecraft gained acceleration before embarking on its monthlong trajectory to the lunar destination.
Energy and excitement
Vikram, the spacecraft’s lander, separated from its propulsion module and promptly began transmitting lunar surface images after entering orbit on August 5.
In the lead-up to the landing, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conveyed on social media that the mission was progressing as planned, with the mission control complex brimming with energy and excitement.
Despite a comparatively modest aerospace budget, India has substantially expanded its space programme since its maiden moon orbit in 2008. The latest mission, with a price tag of $74.6 million, underscores India’s cost-effective space engineering approach.
Experts attribute India’s cost efficiency to the adaptation of existing space technology and the availability of skilled engineers.
Chandrayaan-3’s lunar rendezvous
In 2014, India made history as the first Asian nation to achieve satellite orbit around Mars, and it is poised to embark on crewed space flight endeavours, commencing with uncrewed test flights in 2024.
The current moon mission is seen as an invaluable contribution of India’s exploration of the underexplored lunar south pole, underscoring its significance in advancing scientific understanding.
This triumph, accomplished by Chandrayaan-3, distinguishes India as a nation joining the US, Russia and China in achieving a controlled lunar surface landing.
Pragyan rover, Chandrayaan-3’s robotic vehicle, weighs 26 kilograms, and is equipped with various instruments. The rover has a mission life of 14 days, equivalent to one lunar day.
What will Chandrayaan-3 do on moon?
India’s ISRO has officially joined the elite league of space superstars with this remarkable lunar landing achievement. Chandrayaan-3’s mission is about to take the moon by storm with its cutting-edge technology and scientific quests.
As Vikram lander’s side panel unfurls, revealing a ramp ready to introduce the rover Pragyan onto the lunar stage. Powered by solar energy, Pragyan has around two weeks to explore the moon. They’re on a tight schedule, making the most of the sun’s embrace before the chilly lunar night sets in.
And guess what? The rover’s in constant communication with the lander, which then relays vital information back to Earth.
Now, let’s dive into the details of what’s on board:
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS)
Picture a lunar detective analysing the moon’s chemical and mineral make-up, revealing what is there within the surface of the lunar South Pole.
Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
This rover is no ordinary explorer; it’s on a mission to uncover elements like magnesium, aluminium, silicon, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron, painting a vivid picture of lunar composition.
Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA)
Imagine this as a cosmic gas and plasma investigator, observing the moon’s atmosphere as it comes in contact cosmic particles.
Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE)
It’s all about the moon’s temperatures. This experiment is like the ultimate lunar weather reporter, revealing thermal secrets.
Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA)
This payload listens to the moon’s heartbeat to uncover its subterranean rhythms.
Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA)
This retroreflector allows measurement of lunar distances with laser precision, like cosmic distance measurements using a futuristic measuring tape.