Chandrayaan-3

Table of Contents

Chandrayaan-3

Chandrayaan-3, articulated as /ˌtʃʌndɹəˈjɑːn/, represents India’s third lunar exploration mission as part of the Chandrayaan programme, spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This mission features a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan, akin to the components deployed in the Chandrayaan-2 endeavor. The propulsion module facilitated the transfer of the lander and rover duo into lunar orbit, priming them for a controlled descent by the lander.

Embarking on its journey on 14 July 2023, Chandrayaan-3 swiftly reached lunar orbit by 5 August. A remarkable milestone was achieved on 23 August 2023 at 12:32 UTC, when the lander made a successful touchdown within the lunar south pole region. This accomplishment etched India’s name as the fourth nation to elegantly land on the Moon, a noteworthy achievement further magnified by its proximity to the lunar south pole.

A precursor to Chandrayaan-3, Chandrayaan-2 was launched on 22 July 2019, carried by a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) launch platform. This comprehensive mission encompassed an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. While the original plan aimed for the lander to gracefully touch down on the lunar surface by 6 September 2019 for the deployment of the Pragyan rover, an unfortunate turn of events occurred. The lander encountered a loss of communication with Earth’s ground control (ISRO) and veered off course from its intended trajectory, culminating in an unsuccessful landing attempt in proximity to the lunar south pole.

Chandrayaan-3

Chandrayaan-3 Integrated Module in clean-room

Background

On the 22nd of July, 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Chandrayaan-2 via the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3), a carrier that encompassed an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. Anticipated to gracefully land on the lunar surface by the 6th of September, 2019, with the mission to deploy the Pragyan rover, the lander encountered an unfortunate fate. It suffered a disruption in communication with ISRO’s ground control and deviated from its intended trajectory during its descent near the lunar south pole, ultimately leading to a crash landing.

The lunar region around the South Pole has garnered significant scientific interest, primarily due to evidence suggesting substantial ice deposits. This area’s rugged terrain and the peculiar lighting conditions not only prevent the ice from melting but also present challenges for safely landing scientific probes. The ice holds potential solid-state compounds that would typically liquefy under warmer conditions on other lunar terrains. These compounds could offer valuable insights into the histories of the Moon, Earth, and the broader Solar System. Additionally, the presence of ice could serve as a vital resource, providing water for consumption, hydrogen for fuel, and oxygen for future manned missions and settlements.

Facilitating this mission, the European Space Tracking network (ESTRACK), operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), has extended its support. A novel cross-support arrangement has been established, enabling ESA to offer tracking assistance for forthcoming ISRO missions, including India’s inaugural human spaceflight initiative, Gaganyaan, and the Aditya-L1 solar research mission. In reciprocation, upcoming ESA missions are set to receive analogous backing from ISRO’s own tracking stations.

Public Informations

Mission type

Operator

COSPAR ID

SATCAT no.

Mission

Website

Duration

LanderRover

 ISRO

 2023-098B

57320

1 month and 15 days (elapsed)

Website

  • Propulsion module: ≤ 3 to 6 months (planned) 24 days (elapsed) (since orbit insertion)
  • Vikram lander: ≤ 14 days (planned) 6 days (elapsed) (since landing)
  • Pragyan rover: ≤ 14 days (planned) 6 days (elapsed) (since deployment)

Objectives

Spacecraft

Chandrayaan-3 consists of three primary elements.

Propulsion Module

On the 22nd of July, 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Chandrayaan-2 via the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3), a carrier that encompassed an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. Anticipated to gracefully land on the lunar surface by the 6th of September, 2019, with the mission to deploy the Pragyan rover, the lander encountered an unfortunate fate. It suffered a disruption in communication with ISRO’s ground control and deviated from its intended trajectory during its descent near the lunar south pole, ultimately leading to a crash landing.

The lunar region around the South Pole has garnered significant scientific interest, primarily due to evidence suggesting substantial ice deposits. This area’s rugged terrain and the peculiar lighting conditions not only prevent the ice from melting but also present challenges for safely landing scientific probes. The ice holds potential solid-state compounds that would typically liquefy under warmer conditions on other lunar terrains. These compounds could offer valuable insights into the histories of the Moon, Earth, and the broader Solar System. Additionally, the presence of ice could serve as a vital resource, providing water for consumption, hydrogen for fuel, and oxygen for future manned missions and settlements.

Facilitating this mission, the European Space Tracking network (ESTRACK), operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), has extended its support. A novel cross-support arrangement has been established, enabling ESA to offer tracking assistance for forthcoming ISRO missions, including India’s inaugural human spaceflight initiative, Gaganyaan, and the Aditya-L1 solar research mission. In reciprocation, upcoming ESA missions are set to receive analogous backing from ISRO’s own tracking stations.

Lander

The Vikram lander is entrusted with executing a gentle lunar landing. It also shares a box-like shape, featuring four landing legs and four landing thrusters that have the capacity to generate 800 newtons of thrust each. Within it, the rover is accommodated alongside a range of scientific instruments aimed at conducting on-the-spot analyses.

Distinguishing itself from Chandrayaan-2’s lander, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is equipped with four variable-thrust engines boasting the capability to alter their slew rates. Unlike its predecessor, which featured five engines with one centrally mounted and restricted to fixed thrust, the new configuration seeks to address the landing failure experienced in Chandrayaan-2. By enabling the lander to manage both attitude and thrust throughout all stages of descent, potential issues like attitude increase during the camera coasting phase have been resolved. The attitude correction rate has been significantly elevated from Chandrayaan-2’s 10°/s to 25°/s with Chandrayaan-3. Moreover, the Chandrayaan-3 lander integrates a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) to facilitate the measurement of attitude in three dimensions. The impact legs have been fortified compared to those on Chandrayaan-2, and redundancy in instrumentation has been enhanced.

Public Informations

Bus

Manufacturer

Launch mass

Chandrayaan

 ISRO

3900 kg

Payload Mass

  • Propulsion Module: 2148 kg
  • Lander Module (Vikram): 1726 kg
  • Rover (Pragyan) 26 kg
  • Total: 3900 kg

Power

  • Propulsion Module: 758 W
  • Lander Module: 738 W (WS with Bias)
  • Rover: 50 W

Start of Mission

Launch Date

Rocket

Launch Site

Contractor

Moon Orbiter

Pericynthion Altitude

Apocynthion Altitude

 14 July 2023 09:05:17 UTC

LVM3 M4

Satish Dhawan Space Centre

ISRO

5 August 2023

153 km (95 mi)

163 km (101 mi)

Moon Lander

Spacecraft 

Landing Date

Landing Site

Coordinates 

Landing Date

Distance Driven

Vikram Lander

 23 August 2023 12:32 UTC

 Shiv Shakti point

69.373°S 32.319°E

23 August 2023

 8 m (26 ft)

Aiming for greater precision, Chandrayaan-3’s landing site is refined to a 4 km by 4 km area, utilizing images previously captured by the Orbiter High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) onboard Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter. In a bid to enhance the lander’s survivability during descent and landing, ISRO has bolstered structural rigidity, elevated data frequency and transmission rates, and incorporated supplementary contingency systems.

Rover

The Pragyan rover is a hexapod vehicle weighing 26 kilograms (57 pounds). It spans dimensions of 917 millimeters (3.009 ft) in length, 750 millimeters (2.46 ft) in width, and 397 millimeters (1.302 ft) in height.

Anticipated to undertake an array of measurements, the rover is poised to contribute to research endeavors encompassing the lunar surface’s composition, the potential existence of water ice within lunar soil, the chronological record of lunar impacts, and the evolutionary trajectory of the Moon’s atmosphere.

Payloads

Lander

  • Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) is designated to assess the thermal conductivity and temperature of the lunar surface.
  • The Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) has been devised to gauge the seismic activity in the vicinity of the landing site.
  • The Langmuir Probe (LP) is tasked with continuously estimating the plasma density near the lunar surface.

Rover

  • The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) aims to deduce the chemical composition and deduce the mineralogical makeup of the lunar surface.
  • The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) is designed to ascertain the elemental composition (including Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Ti, Fe) of lunar soil and rocks near the landing site on the Moon.

Propulsion Module

  • The Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) mission will analyze Earth’s spectral and polarimetric properties from lunar orbit using near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths ranging from 1 to 1.7 μm (3.9×10−5 to 6.7×10−5 inches).

Mission Profile

Launch

On July 14, 2023, at 09:05 UTC, Chandrayaan-3 was lifted off into space using an LVM3-M4 rocket from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India. The spacecraft then entered an Earth parking orbit characterized by a perigee of 170 km (106 mi) and an apogee of 36,500 km (22,680 mi).

Orbit

Following a sequence of maneuvers conducted within Earth’s vicinity, Chandrayaan-3 was maneuvered into a trans-lunar injection orbit. Subsequently, on August 5, ISRO executed a lunar-orbit insertion (LOI) operation, effectively establishing Chandrayaan-3 in lunar orbit. The LOI maneuver was executed from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) located in Bengaluru.

Then, on August 17, the Vikram lander successfully detached from the propulsion module, marking the commencement of the final phase of the mission.

Descent

On August 23, 2023, as the lander approached the nadir point of its orbit, its four engines were engaged for a braking maneuver at an altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles) above the lunar surface. After a duration of 11.5 minutes, the lander had descended to a height of 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) above the surface. Maintaining this altitude for approximately 10 seconds, the lander employed eight smaller thrusters to stabilize itself and initiated a rotation from a horizontal to a vertical orientation while continuing its descent.

Subsequently, using two out of its four engines, the lander decelerated its descent to an approximate altitude of 150 meters (490 feet). It remained suspended at this height for around 30 seconds, during which it identified an optimal landing location. Following this, the lander resumed its downward trajectory and achieved touchdown at 12:32 UTC.

Mission life

  • Propulsion Module: The propulsion module is responsible for transporting the lander and rover to a lunar orbit spanning 100 by 100 kilometers (62 mi × 62 mi). Additionally, it facilitates the operation of the experimental payload for a duration of up to six months.
  • Lander Module: The lander module is designed to operate throughout one lunar daylight period, equivalent to 14 Earth days.
  • Rover Module: Similar to the lander, the rover module is also intended to function for the duration of one lunar daylight period, encompassing 14 Earth days.

Team

  • ISRO Chairperson: S. Somanath
  • Mission Director: S. Mohanakumar
  • Associate Mission Director: G. Narayanan
  • Project Director: P. Veeramuthuvel
  • Deputy Project Director: Kalpana Kalahasti
  • Vehicle Director: Biju C. Thomas

Funding

In December 2019, ISRO initiated the project by requesting initial funding of ₹75 crore (US$9.4 million). Out of this allocation, ₹60 crore (US$7.5 million) was earmarked for covering expenses related to machinery, equipment, and other capital needs, while the remaining ₹15 crore (US$1.9 million) was intended for operating expenditures. Amit Sharma, CEO of an ISRO vendor, emphasized the cost reduction achieved through local sourcing of equipment and design components.

Confirming the project’s existence, former ISRO chairman K. Sivan stated that the estimated total cost was anticipated to be around ₹615 crore (equivalent to ₹721 crore or US$90 million in 2023).

Domestic Reaction

Extending congratulations to the ISRO team responsible for the accomplished Chandrayaan-3 Moon Mission at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network in Bengaluru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled that the landing site of the Vikram lander would be designated as Shiv Shakti point moving forward. He additionally proclaimed August 23, the date of the Vikram lander’s lunar touchdown, as National Space Day.

Stages of Chandrayaan-3

Extending congratulations to the ISRO team responsible for the accomplished Chandrayaan-3 Moon Mission at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network in Bengaluru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled that the landing site of the Vikram lander would be designated as Shiv Shakti point moving forward. He additionally proclaimed August 23, the date of the Vikram lander’s lunar touchdown, as National Space Day.

FAQ

When Will Chandrayaan-3 Return to Earth?

Chandrayaan-3 is designed as a lunar mission without a return module, which means it is not intended to return to Earth. Its mission objectives are focused on exploring the Moon’s surface, particularly to study its topography and mineral composition.

Did Chandrayaan-3 Wake Up?

Yes, Chandrayaan-3 was reported to have woken up from its sleep mode during the lunar night to resume activities with the onset of the lunar day, allowing it to continue its scientific experiments and exploration tasks.

What is the Status of Chandrayaan-3?

As of the latest updates, Chandrayaan-3 is operational and conducting its mission on the Moon’s surface. The spacecraft includes a lander and a rover, both of which are equipped to carry out various scientific experiments to study the lunar terrain.

Was Chandrayaan-3 Successful?

Chandrayaan-3 has been largely successful in achieving its primary objectives of demonstrating the ability to perform a soft landing on the Moon and operate a rover on the lunar surface. It marks a significant milestone in India’s space exploration history.

Is Chandrayaan-3 a Satellite?

No, Chandrayaan-3 is not a satellite. It is a lunar exploration mission consisting of a lander and a rover. Its primary purpose is to explore the Moon’s surface, unlike a satellite which orbits a celestial body.

Where is Aditya L1 Now?

Aditya L1, India’s mission to study the Sun, is in its planned orbit at the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system. This position allows it continuous observation of the Sun without the interference of Earth’s magnetic field.

Why is Chandrayaan-3 Sleeping?

Chandrayaan-3 enters a sleep mode during the lunar night to conserve energy. The lunar night lasts for about 14 Earth days, during which temperatures drop significantly, and solar power is not available to operate the instruments.

Why Chandrayaan-3 Stopped Working?

There have been no reports of Chandrayaan-3 permanently stopping its operations. It does enter sleep mode during the lunar night due to the lack of solar energy and extremely low temperatures, which are not conducive to its instruments functioning.

Is Chandrayaan-3 Still in Sleep Mode?

Chandrayaan-3 only enters sleep mode during the lunar night. As of the latest updates, it wakes up with the lunar day to resume its activities, which include roaming the lunar surface and conducting experiments.

Will Chandrayaan-3 Have a Rover?

Yes, Chandrayaan-3 includes a rover. This rover is designed to move across the lunar surface and perform experiments to study the Moon’s topography, mineralogy, and soil composition, among other scientific objectives.

Who Invented Chandrayaan-3?

Chandrayaan-3 was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is part of India’s ongoing efforts to explore the Moon and was built on the successes and lessons learned from its predecessors, Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2.

What is the Aim of Chandrayaan-3?

The aim of Chandrayaan-3 is to further India’s capability to explore and utilize extraterrestrial bodies. Specifically, this mission seeks to demonstrate the ability to perform a soft landing on the Moon and operate a rover on its surface for scientific exploration. The mission contributes valuable data to our understanding of the Moon’s resources, which could be crucial for future lunar missions and possible human habitation.

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