India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, was successfully launched onboard a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM-3) rocket from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2.35 pm on July 14. Many Many Congratulations to India.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up for the highly anticipated launch of Chandrayaan-3, the country’s ambitious lunar mission. This mission marks India’s second attempt to achieve a soft landing on the Moon’s surface.
Chandrayaan-3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, which encountered a partial failure during its landing phase, resulting in a crash landing. Drawing valuable lessons from that experience, ISRO has diligently incorporated a range of improvements and modifications into the Chandrayaan-3 mission, aiming to ensure a successful outcome this time around.
With the goal of enhancing the mission’s chances of success, ISRO has meticulously analyzed the previous mission’s shortcomings and implemented critical adjustments. These enhancements encompass a broad spectrum, including crucial aspects such as navigation, landing protocols, and overall mission design. By building upon the knowledge gained from Chandrayaan-2, ISRO’s scientists and engineers are determined to overcome the challenges and achieve a smooth and controlled landing on the lunar surface.
Key differences between Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3
- While the mission architecture remains similar, there are notable differences between Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3. One significant distinction is the payload carried by the GSLV-MkIII rocket. While Chandrayaan-2 consisted of a lander, rover, and orbiter, Chandrayaan-3 will be launched with only a lander and rover. The Chandrayaan-3 mission will leverage the existing orbiter from Chandrayaan-2 for communication and terrain mapping purposes.
- Chandrayaan-3’s lander mission features an enhanced capability with “lander hazard detection and avoidance cameras” to facilitate coordination with the orbiter and mission control during the landing process on the lunar surface. Unlike Chandrayaan-2, which had one such camera, Chandrayaan-3 is equipped with two cameras, as reported by India Today.
- The Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-3 has been equipped with stronger legs compared to its previous version. The landing velocity has been reduced from 3m/second to 2m/second, providing increased stability during touchdown, according to ISRO chairman S Somanath’s statement to Times of India.
- Additional fuel has been added to the Vikram lander, enhancing its travel capability and ability to handle dispersion. Furthermore, a new sensor called the laser Doppler velocity meter has been integrated, enabling the assessment of lunar terrain by measuring components of three velocity vectors. This redundancy in measurement adds to the existing instrument suite, as explained by Somanath to TOI.
- Learning from the experiences of Chandrayaan-2, the landing area for Chandrayaan-3 has been expanded from 500m x 500m to four km by 2.5 km, reducing the risks associated with a precise landing and providing more flexibility.
- The Vikram lander now features additional solar panels on multiple surfaces to ensure power generation regardless of its landing orientation. To test the spacecraft’s resilience to vibrations, it was flown over different terrains using a helicopter, while landing processes were assessed with the help of cranes.
- Chandrayaan-3’s propulsion module will host a single instrument called Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planetary Earth (SHAPE). This instrument aims to study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit. In contrast, Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter carried nine in-situ instruments that are still operational in the Moon’s orbit.
- Another addition to the Chandrayaan-3 mission is the Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) accompanying the lander. This passive experiment aims to understand the dynamics of the Moon system.