Chandrayaan 3: India’s Third Lunar Mission
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the Chandrayaan 3 on 14th July 2023 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. ISRO completed a 24-hour launch rehearsal on 11th July 2023.
India has been exploring the lunar world for over a decade, which began with Chandrayaan 1 in 2008. Chandrayaan 2 partially failed as the mission did not do a soft landing on the lunar surface. Thus, a soft landing on the moon is one of the objectives of Chandrayaan 3.
Chandrayaan 1 – India’s First Lunar Mission
In October 2008, ISRO launched Chandrayaan 1, a pioneering mission aimed at orbiting the Moon and collecting valuable data. The mission successfully confirmed the presence of water molecules on the lunar surface, a crucial discovery for future lunar missions and potential human settlements. Despite some operational challenges, Chandrayaan 1 achieved its scientific objectives and garnered international recognition.
Chandrayaan 2 -India’s Second Lunar Mission
In July 2019, Chandrayaan 2 marked India’s second lunar mission. Although the mission encountered setbacks, such as the crash of the Vikram lander on the lunar surface, it showcased the growing engagement of citizen scientists. Through image analysis, a Chennai-based enthusiast identified the lander’s debris, highlighting the power of public participation in scientific endeavors. Building upon lessons learned, ISRO is now preparing for Chandrayaan 3 to demonstrate safe landing and roving capabilities.
Chandrayaan 3 – Aims and Objectives
Chandrayaan 3 aims to deploy a lander and rover on the lunar surface. This mission will study the chemical composition, seismic activity, and plasma concentration of the Moon. Moreover, the propulsion module will carry a payload called SHAPE, enabling the tracking of radiation from Earth to identify potential signs of life on habitable exoplanets. Chandrayaan 3 expands the scope of exploration beyond the Moon itself.
Chandrayaan 3 – Beyond the Scientific Endeavors
Chandrayaan 3 is considered significant for reasons beyond the scientific endeavors. As of now, there are only three countries who have done a soft landing on the moon so far which are the USA, erstwhile USSR, and China, so India aims to be the fourth country.
India is competing with China, which has approved the fourth phase of its lunar exploration programme. Moreover, China is planning to construct a lunar research station.
Why Landing in Moon is Tough?
Landing on the moon is tough and it requires precision, any mistake could lead to mission failure. The speed and swing of the lander is crucial for landing on the lunar surface. The lander speed needs to be reduced autonomously to three meters per second to ensure a soft landing.
Moon has one-sixth of the earth’s gravity. The reduced gravitational force makes it necessary to precisely control the descent rate. Moreover, the lunar surface poses a greater challenge as it has vast craters and loosely held rocks and soil.
Significance of Lunar Missions
Lunar missions, such as Chandrayaan, foster global collaboration and scientific exchange among nations. The exploration of the Moon’s south polar region holds immense potential, as shadowed sites within craters contain hydrogen, water, ice, and primordial material. Studying these regions can shed light on the origins of our Solar System and provide valuable insights into the cosmos as a whole.
Broader Implications and Public Benefits
Investing in high-tech areas, including lunar missions, is crucial for developing countries like India. These technologies not only advance scientific knowledge but also have practical applications that benefit society. Space technologies play a vital role in weather prediction, marine resource assessment, forest cover estimation, communication, and defense. Striking a balance between futuristic endeavors and immediate societal needs allows for optimal resource allocation and enhances a country’s standing in the global scientific community.