Chandrayaan-3 moon landing: A look at different kinds of India's lunar missions
Discover the anticipation surrounding India's Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing. Learn about ISRO's preparations and the mission's significance as it aims for the Moon's south pole. Explore the diverse types of space missions, from orbiters to rovers, and the pursuit of water ice for potential habitation.
The nation holds its breath for the landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon today. India's space agency has released pictures of the far side of the south pole, where it aims to land. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is on the brink of triggering the Automatic Landing Sequence (ALS), initiating the throttleable engines of Chandrayaan-3. This strategic move will set the spacecraft on a powered descent trajectory toward the lunar surface.
On Monday morning, ISRO announced that the lander from Chandrayaan-3, scheduled to touch down on Wednesday at 18:04 India time (12:34 GMT), has been mapping the landing area and capturing images using its "hazard detection and avoidance" camera. The agency reports that these images will assist in identifying a "safe landing area - without boulders or deep trenches."
Chandrayaan-3, comprising a propulsion unit, robotic lander, and rover, was launched from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre on July 14. The mission is set to land on the moon on August 23.
The precursor, Chandrayaan-2, launched in July 2019, was only partially successful as the lander-rover failed to achieve a soft landing and crashed during touchdown. However, its orbiter continues to orbit and study the Moon to this day.
One of the primary goals of Chandrayaan-3 is to search for water ice, which could potentially support habitation on the Moon.
Here's a look at different kinds of India's lunar missions:
These missions involve a spacecraft passing close to another celestial body to gather information about it. Although the spacecraft comes near the Moon, it doesn't enter its orbit. Examples include NASA's Voyager 2, which encountered Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and the USSR's Luna 3, which captured the first images of the Moon's far side.
Orbiters continuously circle their target body during their mission. They study the lunar surface and atmosphere extensively. India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, is an example of an orbiter mission.
3. Impact Missions:
These extend from orbiter missions and involve study instruments landing on the moon's surface while the main spacecraft orbits. Impact missions provide concrete data, even though the landing is uncontrolled and may destroy the instruments. Moon Impact Probe (MIP), an instrument on Chandrayaan-1, crash-landed on the Moon's surface.
Lander missions entail landing on the moon, a challenging endeavor with a history of failures due to complexity. The first successful landing was achieved by the USSR's Luna 9 on January 31, 1966. Successful landings have been accomplished on the Moon, Mars, and Venus.
Rovers are extensions of landers, equipped with wheels to move across the lunar surface and gather information. They overcome the limitations of stationary landers, allowing for closer contact with the surface. The rover on the Vikram lander in the Chandrayaan-2 mission is named Pragyaan.
6. Human Missions:
These successful missions involve landing astronauts on the Moon's surface. To date, only NASA has achieved this feat with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Six crewed landings occurred between 1969 and 1972. NASA's Artemis missions, planned for 2025, will mark the return of humans to the lunar surface.
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