Chandrayaan-3, India’s lunar exploration mission, is set to achieve a critical milestone – a soft landing on the moon’s surface. This achievement would make India the only country to successfully accomplish this feat. Let’s delve into the significance of a soft landing, the challenges of landing on the moon’s south pole, and the intricacies of Chandrayaan-3’s landing.
What is a Soft Landing and Why South Pole?
- A soft landing involves controlled descent at a gentle speed to prevent spacecraft damage upon landing.
- Chandrayaan-3 aims to demonstrate safe and gentle landing, rover mobility, and scientific experiments.
- Landing at the moon’s south pole is a remarkable challenge, as it showcases a spacecraft’s technical prowess.
- Previous landings occurred near the equator for better terrain, temperature, sunlight, and energy supply.
Chandrayaan-2’s Setback and Changes in Chandrayaan-3:
- Chandrayaan-2 faced software and hardware issues during its landing attempt in 2019.
- Chandrayaan-3 adopts a failure-based design approach to address the shortcomings.
- Changes include stronger landing legs, increased landing area, enhanced fuel capacity, and improved solar panels.
Technical Details of Chandrayaan-3’s Landing:
Rough Braking Phase:
- Reduce horizontal velocity from 1.68 km/sec at 30 km altitude to nearly zero for soft landing.
Attitude Hold Phase:
- At 7.42 km altitude, the lander tilts from horizontal to vertical while covering 3.48 km.
Fine Braking Phase:
- Lasts around 175 seconds, moving lander fully into a vertical position.
- Descends to 800-1,000 m altitude, nominal speed of 0 m/sec.
- This phase is crucial due to Chandrayaan-2’s past loss of control during this stage.
- Final stage, where the lander descends vertically onto the moon’s surface.
After Successful Landing:
- Payloads aboard Vikram lander and rover Pragyan remain consistent.
- Lander’s payloads study lunar quakes, thermal properties, plasma changes, and distance measurement.
- Rover’s payloads analyze lunar surface’s chemical and mineral composition, including elements like magnesium, aluminum, and iron.