Moon’s South Pole Awaits: The Chandrayaan-3 Landing Spectacle


It was on 14th July 2023 that India’s most awaited Chandrayaan-3 was launched. At 2.35 p.m., the launching was accomplished as the entire nation waited with curiosity. As we now approach the landing date, 23rd August 2023, let us have a peek into the mission and understand it well.

Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first mission to the Moon in 2008, which successfully operated for 312 days instead of as planned for two years. During that time, it discovered the ice water on the Moon. 

Chandrayaan-2 in 2019 aimed for a groundbreaking soft landing on the Moon’s south pole. While the orbiter continues to send valuable data back to Earth, the lander, unfortunately, couldn’t achieve the soft landing as intended.

Chandrayaan-3 is India’s follow-up mission after the failure of Chandrayaan-2. Scientists have said that the lessons learned in Chandrayaan-2 have been successfully implemented in Chandryaan-3, giving a higher hope of success. Before we delve into understanding the components or payloads of the Chandrayaan-3, let us first get to know the mission’s primary goals. 

According to ISRO’s official website, its primary goals are:

  1. To demonstrate a Safe and Soft Landing on Lunar Surface
  2. To demonstrate Rover roving on the Moon
  3. To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.

If you are wondering why these goals are important, continue reading!

The Moon, unlike Earth, has a very thin atmosphere that is a very scant presence of gases. Hence landing on the Moon’s surface would be different. The friction between the atmosphere and the spacecraft, considered on Earth, would be completely different on the Moon. Hence the Safe and Soft Landing on the Lunar surface is a real challenge.

The gravity on the Moon is just one-sixth of the Earth’s gravity. It can be considered one reason for the very thin atmosphere. With the low gravity, the movement on the surface would not be the same as on the Earth. The movement of the astronauts often appears bouncier. But the Rover aims to move smoothly on this low-gravity surface.

With the aimed in-situ experiments, we aim to understand our celestial neighbour better.

What lands on the Moon?

Chandrayaan-3 consists of a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan. 

Image: Left – Lander Vikram, Right – Rover Pragyan
Image credits:

Vikram, as said above, is a lander, a spacecraft that would have a smooth landing and do the rest of the experiments from the same spot without moving around. And Pragyan is a rover, a vehicle that would move around the Moon and do its assigned tasks. 

The lander Vikram has four legs and carries the Rover and other payloads. At the same time, Pragyan the Rover has six legs.

Chandrayaan-3 carries seven key instruments, often called ‘payloads’. One of them, named RAMBHA, will look into the Moon’s atmosphere. Another ILSA will listen for ‘moonquakes’, similar to our earthquakes.

In simple terms, Chandrayaan-3 is like a detective, set to uncover more of the Moon’s mysteries and help us get to know our lunar neighbour a bit more intimately.

The Path to the Moon

The above is the trajectory of Chandrayaan-3. With the orbit altitudes increasing gradually, it was finally shot to the Moon on 5th August 2023 at around 7.53 p.m. IST, with ISRO sharing the welcome post on behalf of the Moon.

The Hidden Face of the Moon!

The Moon takes around 27 days to rotate once on its axis. The rotation is synchronized in a way that only one face of the Moon is visible to the Earth, called the near face of the Moon. The other far side of the Moon is always hidden. The Chandrayaan-3 mission aims to land on the hidden face of the Moon at the south pole.

On 21st August 2023, ISRO released the image of the far side of the Moon taken by the Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera (LHDAC). This camera helps to locate a safe landing area without boulders or deep trenches. The camera captured the image itself on 19th August 2023.

The mission Chandrayaan-3 is awaited with anticipation as India would be the first country to make a soft landing on the lunar south pole if the mission is successful.

The pillars of the mission!

Faces Behind the Chandrayaan-3

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