Science & Technology

Chandrayaan-3 successfully launched, soft landing on Moon expected by late August

ISRO also aims to demonstrate the ability of the rover to move on the Moon and conduct a few experiments, including studying the seismicity & thermal properties of the lunar surface

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Friday 14 July 2023
Photo: Twitter/@isro _

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayaan-3 to the Moon on July 14, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota.

Chandrayaan-3, a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2, will attempt to make a soft landing on the lunar body in the fourth week of August after its predecessor failed to do so in 2019. The trajectory of the launch vehicle is closely following the prediction, the ISRO said after the launch. 


An image showing the trajectory of Chandrayaan-3. Source: ISRO.

“Chandrayaan-3, in its precise orbit, has begun its journey to the Moon. The health of the spacecraft is normal,” ISRO wrote on Twitter.

In addition to a successful soft landing on the Moon, ISRO also aims to demonstrate the ability of the rover to move on the Moon and conduct a few scientific experiments, including studying the seismicity and thermal properties of the lunar surface.

The mission consists of a propulsion module, a lander module and a rover. The propulsion module will carry the lander and rover from the injection orbit to the lunar orbit. The propulsion module will drive earth-bound manoeuvres, trans-lunar injection and moon-bound orbits. 

It also carries an instrument called Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planetary Earth (SHAPE) to enable discoveries of smaller planets. The reflected light from the smaller planets can help scientists probe into a variety of potentially habitable exoplanets.

The rover is armed with two instruments: LASER Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). The former will provide data on the chemical and mineralogical composition of the lunar surface to help experts learn more about the lunar surface.

The latter will look for elements on the lunar soil and rocks around the landing site. These include Magnesium, aluminium, silica, potassium, calcium and the like. 

The lander carries four instruments. Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) will study the near-surface plasma (ions and electrons) density and how it changes with time.

Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) will study how the lunar surface conducts heat, while the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) will look at seismicity around the landing site as well understanding the structure of the lunar crust and mantle. LASER Retroreflector Array (LRA) will use lasers to study the dynamics of the Moon.

“Our work continues from now to the next 42 days till we reach the lunar orbit and make a soft touchdown on the Moon,” M Shankaran, Director of the Bengaluru-based U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), said in an address following the launch.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe, launched on December 8, 2018, made the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon.

Only the near side of the Moon is visible to Earth. In 1959, the Soviet Spacecraft Luna 3 orbited the Moon and captured its “far side” for the first time.

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