ISRO's Chandrayaan-3: India's Historic Mission to the Moon

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                                   ISRO's Chandrayaan-3

India's Historic Mission to the Moon

India is still reeling under the successful launch of ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3. The lunar mission has grabbed headlines all over the globe and rightfully so! July 14 brought back a lot of memories from 2019 when Chandrayaan 2 was launched. 

We still remember the pain we as a country went through when the rover toppled just 2 ft above the ground. Every Indian’s heart skipped a beat.

The tears and sweat of our ISRO scientists certainly worked. However, while we praise the researchers and scientists of our country, we really need to take a minute and dive into the hard work and support of space agencies from across the world, who helped India achieve this feat.
Global effort from scientists for Chandrayaan 3:

Not many know this but India’s third lunar mission involved collaboration with various space agencies including European, Australian and US counterparts of ISRO. 
We all know that for any deep space mission, communication is an essential part. Referring to the Chandrayaan-3 launch on its portal, the European Space Agency (ESA) said that the ground stations on Earth keep operators safely connected to spacecraft as they venture into the unknowns and risks of space, reported PTI. 
It said that without the support of a ground station, it is impossible to get any sort of data from a spacecraft as it is important to know its location or how it is doing, or if it is still working.

As per the PTI report, the ESA said, “Like many space agencies and commercial companies across the globe, ISRO will receive support from the stations of partner organizations instead. Not only does this significantly reduce costs, but it also fosters international spaceflight collaboration.”

For those unaware, ESA’s 15-meter antenna in Kourou, French Guiana, will be used to track Chandrayaan-3 to help ascertain that the spacecraft is in good condition and survived the rigors of lift-off.

ESA will also coordinate tracking support from the 32-meter antenna operated by Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd in the UK, the report said.

The whole nation saw the scientists breaking down and everyone welled up along with them, those present on the launchpad and those watching at home via their television sets. The wave of emotions that Chandrayaan 2 left behind with its failure, made the country even more proud as an Indian

Scientifically speaking, Goonhilly will support the lander during the entire phase of lunar surface operations, helping to ensure that science data acquired by the rover arrives safely with ISRO in India.
 The data will actually be received by Kourou and Goonhilly first and then forwarded to ESOC. From ESOC, the data will be sent to ISRO for analysis.

The two European stations will complement support from NASA’s Deep Space Network and ISRO’s own stations to ensure the spacecraft’s operators never lose sight of their pioneering Moon craft, reported PTI.

At 3:31 pm, the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network, received signals from Chandrayaan-3, and tweeted, “Good hear from you #Chandrayaan3.”
India’s third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, has achieved a historic feat by successfully landing a rover on the Moon’s south pole on July 14, 2023. The mission, which was a repeat of Chandrayaan-2 but without an orbiter, demonstrated India’s capability to perform a soft landing on the lunar surface and operate a rover for scientific exploration.

Chandrayaan-3 was launched by the powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. 
The launch vehicle carried a propulsion module and a lander module, which housed a rover named Pragyan-2. The propulsion module performed several orbit-raising maneuvers around the Earth before injecting the lander module into a lunar transfer trajectory.

After reaching the vicinity of the Moon, the lander module separated from the propulsion module and entered a circular orbit around the Moon. On July 14, 2023, the lander module initiated a powered descent to the lunar surface, using its four throttleable engines and various sensors to control its speed and orientation. 
The lander module successfully touched down on a flat region near the south pole of the Moon, within a landing site of 4 km x 2.4 km.
The landing was witnessed by several ground stations across the world, including those of NASA, ESA and Australia, which provided tracking and communication support to ISRO for this mission.
 The landing was also broadcast live by ISRO and various media outlets, generating excitement and pride among millions of Indians and space enthusiasts worldwide.

Soon after the landing, the lander module deployed its solar panels and antennas and established contact with ISRO’s Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) in Byalalu, Karnataka. 

The lander module also released the rover Pragyan-2, which rolled out of the lander ramp and onto the lunar soil. The rover is equipped with two scientific instruments: an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS), which can analyze the chemical composition of the lunar rocks and soil.

The lander module also carries four scientific payloads: a Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), which can study the plasma environment around the Moon; a Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), 
which can measure the thermal conductivity and temperature gradient of the lunar surface; an Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), which can detect moonquakes; and a Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA), which can serve as a passive target for laser ranging measurements from Earth or other orbiters.

The lander and rover are expected to operate for one lunar day (about 14 Earth days), during which they will perform various experiments and send back valuable data and images to ISRO and other collaborating agencies. 
The mission will also pave the way for future lunar exploration missions by India, such as Chandrayaan-4, which is planned to carry an orbiter, a lander and two rovers to study the lunar polar regions in more detail.

Chandrayaan-3 is a remarkable achievement for ISRO and India, as it showcases their technological prowess and scientific ambition in the field of space exploration. 

It also demonstrates their resilience and perseverance in overcoming the challenges faced by Chandrayaan-2, where a communication glitch resulted in the failure of the lander’s soft landing attempt in September 2019. Chandrayaan-3 is a testament to ISRO’s motto: “Space technology in service of humankind”.

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