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Chandrayaan-3 Mission Overview and Soft Landing on the Moon

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?

Moon: Vikram all set for soft landing as India reaches for the Moon today | India News - Times of India

  • 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:

Countdown begins for launch of Chandrayaan-3, India's third lunar exploration mission from Sriharikota

  • 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.

Terminal Descent:

    • 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.

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