India's Chandrayaan-3 Lander Triumphantly Lands On Moon

India became just the fourth nation to accomplish it on Wednesday when its Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully made contact with the moon.

India's Chandrayaan-3 Lander Triumphantly Lands On Moon
India became just the fourth nation to accomplish it on Wednesday when its Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully made contact with the moon.

After a 19-minute powered fall from lunar orbit, the Chandrayaan-3 mission lander touched down on August 23 at 8:32 a.m. Eastern (1232 UTC) near the lunar South Pole area.

With this successful soft landing on the moon, India joins the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.

Pictures taken at the Mission Operations Complex of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) revealed joyful emotions after the safe landing. Immediately following the landing, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “India is on the moon.”

At 69.37 degrees south latitude and 32.35 degrees east longitude, close to the crater Manzinus U, the Vikram lander made a soft touchdown. ESA’s ESTRACK deep space tracking station in New Norcia, Australia, assisted with the fall.

The landing was place at the greatest lunar latitude yet achieved by a spacecraft. The Chandrayaan-2 mission lander’s unsuccessful attempt in 2019 was followed by this one’s success.

Additionally, the landing occurs just days after Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft crashed into the moon due to a malfunction during an orbital maneuver.

Pragyan, a six-wheeled, 26-kilogram solar-powered rover that will attempt to demonstrate roaming operation on the lunar surface, is also carried by the lander. Its deployment is anticipated to happen soon.

At 7:50 a.m. Eastern, ISRO started broadcasting live coverage of the event. At 8:14 a.m., the mission lander module arrived at the predetermined orbital location and started an autonomous landing process. At a height of around 30 kilometers, the spacecraft engaged its throttleable engines and started its powered fall.

The mission’s primary objective is to demonstrate landing technology. The lander and rover both include a variety of payloads for in-situ science research.

Vikram is equipped with the NASA-provided passive Laser Retroreflector Array, the Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere and Langmuir Probe (RAMBHA-LP), a deployable Langmuir Probe to measure plasma density close to the lunar surface, a probe to measure lunar surface thermal properties down to a depth of 10 centimeters, and an instrument for detecting lunar seismic activity.

The APXS (Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer) and LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope) instruments on Pragyan are used to examine the chemical and mineralogical composition of the lunar surface.

The remaining nearly 12 days of lunar daylight will be used by both spacecraft for various tasks and investigations. Both are not anticipated to make it through the lunar night, when the temperature will plummet to almost minus 130 degrees Celsius.

Chandrayaan-3 began its tortuous voyage to the moon on July 14 when it was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center aboard an LVM-3 heavy-lift rocket into an initial very elliptical Earth orbit.

It entered an eccentric lunar orbit on August 5 and started to trim it to a nearly circular low lunar orbit before the attempted landing.

Using images and data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance spacecraft and Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, ISRO selected the ideal landing location. In 2019, the Chandrayaan-2 landing attempt failed after a rough landing because to a buildup of software problems.

India’s first moon probe, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008 and spent a year orbiting the moon looking for signs of water molecules. Then, in 2009, it was specifically ordered to make a crash landing on the moon’s surface.

The mission takes place during a time of resurging interest in the moon, notably in relation to the lunar south pole and prospective water-ice sources.

The first spacecraft to successfully do a soft landing on the moon and relay photographic photos to Earth was the Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in February 1966.

Before landing astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in Mare Tranquillitatis in July 1969, the United States accomplished a same achievement with Surveyor in June of the same year. With the Chang’e-3 lander and rover mission, China carried out the first of its three soft landings in December 2013, followed by the first lunar far side landing in January 2019.

Soon, other nations and private organizations could join this exclusive club. The Tanegashima Space Center will launch the Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) mission from Japan at 8:34 p.m. Eastern on August 25.

Intuitive Machines plans to launch its IM-1 on a Falcon 9 soon as a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Before the year is up, Mission One from Astrobotic Technology, a CLPS member, might launch atop a Vulcan Centaur rocket from ULA.

China plans to fly its Chang’e 6 spacecraft in an effort to gather and return back the first samples from the lunar far side, while the United States is preparing more CLPS missions for 2024.