ISRO has emphasised that the lander will possess the essential capabilities for a soft landing on the lunar surface.
After the disappointing crash of the Chandrayaan-2 lander-rover four years ago, ISRO is gearing up for a renewed lunar mission with Chandrayaan-3. The upcoming mission, slated for a July launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, aims to explore a previously unilluminated region of the moon shielded from the sun's cosmic rays.
Chandrayaan-3, the anticipated lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation, is set to launch in July. This mission holds the promise of redemption after the setback of Chandrayaan-2, as it seeks to unravel the mysteries of a moonlit area that has largely remained shrouded in darkness. The launch will take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
ISRO senior officials have provided confirmation that the Chandrayaan-3 mission is nearing its final stages of preparation. Currently, the integration of payloads is underway at the UR Rao Satellite Centre, with teams diligently working to meet the mid-July launch target. The mission is set to be carried out using India's powerful Launch Vehicle Mark III.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission, launched in 2018, comprised an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. While the orbiter functioned as planned, successfully establishing an orbit around the moon, the lander and rover encountered a mishap and crash-landed on the moon's far side, resulting in their loss.
In a cost-effective approach, ISRO has made the decision to launch a lander and a rover for Chandrayaan-3 while repurposing the orbiter from Chandrayaan-2. By leveraging the existing orbiter, the Indian space agency aims to optimise resources for the new lunar mission.
ISRO has announced that the lander for Chandrayaan-3 will possess the capability for a soft landing at a designated lunar site. Once deployed, the rover will conduct in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during its exploration activities.
The lander accompanying Chandrayaan-3 will be equipped with advanced scientific instruments. These include Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment to measure thermal conductivity and temperature, the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity to estimate seismicity, and a Langmuir Probe to calculate plasma density and variations.
The rover deployed during the Chandrayaan-3 mission will carry sophisticated tools such as the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer and Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument. These instruments will enable the analysis of elemental composition near the landing site. Additionally, ISRO plans to launch a passive laser retroreflector array from NASA for lunar laser ranging studies.
Enclosed within the propulsion module, the lander and rover will be carefully arranged, accompanying the launch vehicle from injection to the lunar orbit's final 100 km circular polar orbit before separation.
Alongside the lander and rover, the propulsion module will also transport the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload. This instrument is designed to conduct spectral and polarimetric observations of Earth from the vantage point of the lunar orbit.