Chandrayaan-3 highlights: Vikram Lander successfully completes first deboosting maneuver

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Chandrayaan-3: ISRO is out on a mission to land an Indian spacecraft on the moon. After a successful launch and managing to ace the orbit around the moon, the mission has reached an advanced stage where the Vikram Lander will be lowered into an orbit just 30 kilometers from the Moon. Today, the Lander has successfully completed its first deboosting

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Chandrayaan 3 details

According to NASA, the propulsion module/communications relay satellite will remain in lunar orbit to enable communications with Earth. Chandrayaan 3 will also be used as a backup relay. The lander and rover are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period (about 14 Earth days).

Goals of Chandrayaan-3 mission

Chandrayaan-3 has two main goals: First, to show that it can land safely and gently on the Moon, and second, to use a small rover for about 14 Earth days, which is equal to one lunar day. The rover is light, weighing only 26 kilograms. It will do scientific tests to learn about the Moon’s origin, its rocks, and its composition, and analyze the environment.

What is Chandrayaan-3 doing differently this time?

Learning from the mistakes, in a press conference, ISRO chairperson S. Somnath said, “Instead of a success-based design in Chandrayaan-2, we are doing a failure-based design in Chandrayaan-3 —we are looking at what can go wrong and how to deal with it”. 

What went wrong in the Chandrayaan-2 mission?

The Chandrayaan-2 mission began hitting all the right chords, but the problem arrived in the last phase of the mission when the lander and the rover were supposed to reach the lunar surface. On September 6, 2019, the lander deviated from its trajectory. According to reports, it was said to be a software glitch that increased the thrust on five of the engines on the lander and caused the crash.

Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh on Chandrayaan-3 mission

“Now I think I’m quite confident, more than 100% it’s going to be a safe landing (Chandrayaan 3 landing). I was watching with slightly caution the moment when Chandrayaan was to move out of Earth’s orbit and move to Moon’s orbit because that a critical situation. Most of the critical stages are over now,” he said, as per PTI.

ISRO successfully performs second orbit-lifting exercise

ISRO has successfully performed the second Earth-bound apogee firing of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft. “The spacecraft is now in 41603 km X 226 km orbit,” the space agency said.

Moon’s view from Vikram Lander

ISRO has shared a picture from the Vikram Lander where the Moon is clearly visible. Take a look here. ISRO also said, “View from the Lander Imager (LI) Camera-1 on August 17, 2023. Just after the separation of the Lander Module from the Propulsion Module”. 

ISRO gives mission update

The ISRO official Twitter has shared a new update. It said, “The Lander Module (LM) health is normal. LM successfully underwent a deboosting operation that reduced its orbit to 113 km x 157 km. The second deboosting operation is scheduled for August 20, 2023, around 0200 Hrs. IST”. 

Know the different parts of Chandrayaan-3

The Chandrayaan-3 comprises of 3 components – a lunar lander named Vikram, a rover named Pragyan, and the propulsion module. The names were retained from the previous Chandrayaan-2 mission which crashed on the lunar surface during its descent. On August 1, the spacecraft entered its translunar orbit and it commenced its lunar orbit just 4 days later. Since then, it has been carrying out a series of maneuvers that have gradually reduced its gap with the Moon.

What will Vikram Lander do after its landing?

After landing, the propulsion module will continue in its current orbit for months or even years. The Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload aboard the module will carry out a series of experiments, such as a spectroscopic study of the Earth’s atmosphere, measurement of variations in polarization from the clouds on Earth, and collection of Exoplanet signatures that would qualify for our habitability.

Chandrayaan-3: What’s next?

As per ISRO, Chandrayaan-3 will now carry out two orbit-reduction maneuvers where it will initially enter a lower 100 x 100 km orbit, before settling in a 100 x 30 orbit. The spacecraft will then make its final descent for a lunar touchdown, which is expected to occur on August 23.

What does ‘deboosting the Vikram Lander’ actually mean?

During this phase of the mission, Chandrayaan-3 will slow down and position itself in a lower orbit where its Perilune (the point at which a spacecraft in lunar orbit is closest to the moon) will be 30 kilometers and Apolune (the point at which a spacecraft in lunar orbit is furthest from the moon) will be about 100 kilometers. 

Chandrayaan-3 Mission update by ISRO

the Propulsion Module continues its journey in the current orbit for months/years.

The SHAPE payload onboard it would

  • Perform spectroscopic study of the Earth’s atmosphere and
  • Measure the variations in polarization from the clouds on Earth
  • To accumulate signatures of Exoplanets that would qualify for our habitability!

This payload is SHAPEd by U R Rao Satellite Centre/ISRO, Bengaluru.

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