For Chandrayaan-3, the Indian Space Research Organization’s third lunar mission, which is scheduled to launch later this year, the organisation has decided on the coordinates of three potential landing locations. According to leading experts from the space agency, all potential landing locations are on the side of the moon that faces Earth in the south polar area.
Chandrayaan-3, a follow-up mission to Chandrayaan-2, is intended to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface. The criteria for choosing the landing sites included local and global slope, illumination from the sun, radio communication with earth, and crater and boulder sizes, according to a space scientist who asked not to be identified.
Scientists are particularly interested in the southern polar zone of the moon because it might contain water ice. A lander and a rover will go on Chandrayaan-3, which is scheduled to be launched at the end of 2023.
A series of ongoing space missions by Isro is known as the Chandrayaan programme, also called the Indian lunar exploration programme. In 2008, Chandrayaan-1, the first moon rocket, was launched and successfully put into the lunar orbit.
Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched and placed into lunar orbit in 2019, but on September 6, 2019, a software error caused the lander to deviate from its landing trajectory and crash down on the moon’s surface.
Between the Manzius U and Boguslawsky M craters on the moon, there is the ideal landing location for Chandrayaan-3. According to Isro, it also gives the lander the freedom to land anywhere within the 4km x 2.4km area that is 100m from the lander hovering position.
According to a scientist from Isro’s Space Application Centre, who is involved with the mission, the local slope should be less than 10 degrees, the global slope should tend towards the equator, more than 90% of the site area should be sunlit for 10–11 days, boulder size should not be greater than 2m, and there should be a minimum crater and boulder distribution in the area.
He stated, requesting anonymity, “The site selection started with the analysis of the three shortlisted sites for Chandrayaan-2 landing in the 70-80 degrees latitude area.” These locations were checked out again for Chandrayaan-3 landing sites, however it was discovered that they did not match the landing area criteria (4 km × 2.4 km).
An indigenous lander module, a propulsion module, and a rover make up Chandrayaan-3. Its goals include creating and showcasing innovative technologies needed for extraterrestrial missions. The lander will be able to soft land at a chosen location on the moon and release the rover, which will do in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface as it is moving.
Both the lander and the rover will be equipped with scientific payloads that will conduct lunar surface experiments.
Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) rocket will be used to launch Chandrayaan-3 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The lander and rover configuration will be propelled by the propulsion module up to a 100 kilometre lunar orbit.
The mission’s objectives are to show a safe and soft landing on the moon’s surface and to move the rover across the moon’s surface while conducting in-situ scientific investigations.
Between the end of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, Isro has three expensive missions planned. The launch of Gaganyaan’s unmanned “G1” mission and Aditya-L1, India’s first dedicated scientific mission to study the sun, is planned for the last quarter of 2023. The second unmanned ‘G2’ mission would come after this in the second quarter of 2024, followed by the final manned space trip, or ‘H1’ mission, in the fourth quarter of 2024.
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