Students of Everwin School with their faces painted with moon celebrate the pre-soft landing of Chandrayaan- 3, in Chennai, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (PTI)
TIRUPATI: The third time is expected to be the charm for the Indian Space Research Organisation, which is set to achieve a historic milestone as its third Moon mission Chandrayaan-3’s lander module (LM) is set to land on the lunar surface on Wednesday evening. With this, India will become the first country to reach the uncharted south pole of the Moon.
The LM, comprising the lander, Vikram, and rover, Pragyan, is scheduled to make the touchdown at 6.04 pm on Wednesday. Assuming all goes according to Isro’s plan, with a soft landing and launch of the rover, it will make India only the fourth country, after the USA, China and the former Soviet Union, to master the technology.
This is India’s second attempt in four years.
The success of Isro’s ambitious mission hinges on a crucial 15-minute sequence during which the LM will execute a complex technical manoeuvre, involving a transition from a high-speed horizontal position to a vertical one, which will pave the way for a smooth and controlled descent.
Isro officials confirmed that the mission is proceeding as planned, reassuring the public that "systems are undergoing regular checks, smooth sailing is continuing," as per posts on social media platform X. Isro also posted: "Mission Operations Complex (MOX) is buzzed with energy and excitement!"
In preparation for the historic moment, Isro shared images of the Moon captured by the lander position detection camera, from an altitude of about 70 kilometres. These images are used to determine the LM's position (latitude and longitude) by matching them against an onboard Moon reference map.
Isro also announced that landing operations, starting at 5.27 pm on Wednesday, will be telecast live, enabling the world to witness India’s achievement in real time.
Exuding confidence in the Chandrayaan-3 mission's success, Isro chairman S. Somanath highlighted the preparations for the launch and the efficient progress made by the integrated module and the LM throughout their journey.
"We have a strong belief in the situation because everything has been proceeding smoothly until now, and we haven't encountered any unexpected situations up to this point," Somanath said.
He also highlighted the comprehensive validation procedures and multiple simulations that Isro teams have undergone to ensure that all aspects are taken care of.
The objectives of Chandrayaan-3 encompass demonstrating a secure and soft landing on the Moon, rover roving on the lunar surface, and conducting in-situ scientific experiments. The propulsion module, set to remain in lunar orbit for an extended period, carries a payload, spectro-polarimetry of habitable planet Earth, dedicated to studying Earth’s spectral and polarimetric measurements from the Moon’s orbit.
Among the payloads Vikram will deploy on touchdown are Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), for temperature and thermal conductivity measurements, the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) to monitor seismic activity, the Langmuir Probe (LP) for plasma density estimation, and Nasa’s passive Laser Retroreflector Array for lunar laser studies.
The rover, Pragyan, will carry an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and a laser-induced breakdown spectroscope to analyse elements in the landing site's vicinity.
Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2, which had failed in its lunar phase when its lander crashed into the surface of the Moon following anomalies in the braking system on September 7, 2019. Chandrayaan's maiden mission was in 2008.