Chandrayaan-3 Set for Launch Today, Anticipated Lunar Landing on August 23

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Monika Ahuja
Monika Ahuja
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  • Chandrayaan-3, India’s highly anticipated lunar mission, is scheduled for launch today and aims for a historic lunar landing on August 23.
  • The mission is important as it seeks to establish India as the fourth nation to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface, only after the United States, Russia, and China.
  • Learn about the mission’s significance and the modifications made by ISRO after the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 mission in 2019.

It is a much-awaited historic event; the Chandrayaan-3 mission took flight today from the secondary launch site located at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Its lander Vikram is expected to make a historic touchdown on the lunar surface. According to sources within the mission, the precise landing is projected to occur at 5.47 pm on August 23, culminating in a remarkable 40-day journey. Confident in their plans, ISRO representatives have provided these details to TOI regarding the upcoming mission.

Launched at 2.35 pm today, this ambitious Chandrayaan-3 mission will initiate with the launch of ISRO’s LMV3 rocket, which will carry both the lander and an accompanying rover from Sriharikota. If the landing proves successful, India will join an elite group of the United States, Russia, and China, as the fourth nation to achieve this significant scientific milestone. Notably, valuable lessons have been gathered from the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which encountered challenges during its attempted soft landing in 2019. Consequently, ISRO has implemented numerous modifications to ensure a safe and prosperous outcome for Chandrayaan-3.

ISRO’s Bengaluru station will closely monitor the final landing on August 23. This triumphant achievement would firmly establish India as a nation capable of soft-landing on the lunar surface, joining the ranks of the few countries that have accomplished this feat. A senior scientist revealed an intriguing aspect of Chandrayaan-3, stating, “Unlike Chandrayaan-2, when the landing was tracked through a Madrid (NASA-JPL) station, this time we will track the lander from our ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (Istrac) station in Bengaluru.” The scientist further added that the expected time of Vikram’s lunar touchdown is currently calculated as 5.47 pm on August 23, although slight adjustments may occur due to mission profile variations.

While Istrac’s stations will monitor the launch, stations in Brunei and Biak (Indonesia) will capture the separation of the spacecraft. Furthermore, Chandrayaan-3 will feature seven additional scientific instruments, complementing the eight payloads that have been transmitting remote-sensing data since 2019. Among these instruments is one designed to orbit the Moon, while the remaining six will be deployed on the lunar surface.

The significance of Chandrayaan-3 extends beyond its technical advancements. The mission encapsulates a notable “desi” (Indian) element, as it carries a payload to observe Earth from the Moon. This initiative aims to study Earth’s habitable planet-like attributes, thereby contributing to future explorations of exoplanets.

Vikram, the lander, carries four essential payloads. One of these payloads is specifically designed to investigate moonquakes, while another focuses on understanding the surface’s thermal conductivity. The third payload aims to analyze the plasma environment, while the fourth facilitates more accurate measurements of the Earth-Moon distance. Additionally, the two payloads on Pragyan, the rover, will examine the composition of the Moon’s surface using X-ray and laser technologies.

The chosen landing site for Chandrayaan-3 is situated near the Moon’s south pole. This region holds immense scientific intrigue due to the presence of permanently shadowed craters, which are speculated to contain observable quantities of water molecules.

As the launch of Chandrayaan-3 draws near, anticipation and excitement continue to build. With the meticulous planning and improvements implemented by ISRO, India’s scientific community and the nation as a whole eagerly await the successful culmination of this remarkable lunar mission.

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