19 July 2024

Chandrayaan-3: All set for India to land on lunar south pole today

All is set for India to become the first country to land on the largely unexplored lunar south pole’s surface today if the scheduled Chandrayaan-3 mission to soft-land is successful.

All systems on the spacecraft are working perfectly and no contingencies are anticipated on the landing day, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said.

India’s PM, Narendra Modi who is in South Africa to attend BRICS Summit, is expected to watch virtually the historic landing attempt on the lunar surface.

While anticipation is building up across the world ahead of attempted soft-landing, special prayers are being held across the country for success of this lunar mission.

The lander module from Chandrayaan-3, Vikram is due to touch down on Wednesday at 18:04 India time (12:34 GMT) after being lowered into an orbit closer to the Moon. Lander has been mapping the landing area and taking images with its “hazard detection and avoidance” camera to avoid the crash landing similar to its previous mission, Chandrayaan-2, according to ISRO.

India’s lunar lander is expected to touch down today (Photos courtesy/ISRO)

The lander module is in 25km x 134km orbit and powered descent is expected to commence today(23 August) around 1745 hrs (India time) and live telecast of soft-landing begins at 1720hrs (India time).

India will also become the fourth country to successfully land on the Moon using a lander after the US, Russia and China. A lander is a spacecraft that’s designed to land softly on the surface, while an impactor is destroyed upon a hard landing.

In September 1959, the USSR’s unmanned Luna 2 spacecraft was the first to successfully land on the Moon.

Chandrayaan-3, (meaning “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit) is third in India’s programme of lunar exploration and comes with a price tag of Rs 6.15 billion (approx. $120 million). The lander-rover of Chandrayaan -2 failed to make a soft landing and crashed during touchdown.

Image of moon captured from 70 km altitude

Lunar south pole – where Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is expected to touchdown, is believed to contain frozen water that perhaps could be “broken down to produce hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe”. This area largely remains permanently under huge shadow making scientists think it may possibly have water.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched on July 14 from India’s main space port in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh(India) and the lander module of Chandrayaan-3 separated from the propulsion module last week.

If it lands successfully, the Chandrayaan-3 is expected to remain functional for two weeks, running a series of experiments including a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

Once successful, this ‘unprecedented feat’ would establish India’s position as a major space power, and help boost commercial success of its space industry also.

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