Chandrayaan-3 moon mission: Know what’s coming next
In its latest maneuver on July 17, the Chandrayaan-3 lander separated from the propulsion module and will now begin its descent towards the lunar south pole. Know what’s next for India’s third lunar mission.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)'s Chandrayaan-3 mission could not have had a better start, with the lander commencing its deboosting process today. The mission, which launched on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota, is India's second attempt to touchdown on the surface of the Moon. In its latest maneuver on July 17, the lander separated from the propulsion module and will now begin its descent towards the lunar south pole.
The Chandrayaan-3 comprises of 3 components - a lunar lander named Vikram, a rover named Pragyan, and the propulsion module. The names were retained from the previous Chandrayaan-2 mission which crashed on the lunar surface during its descent. On August 1, the spacecraft entered its translunar orbit and it commenced its lunar orbit just 4 days later. Since then, it has been carrying out a series of maneuvers that have gradually reduced its gap with the Moon.
According to ISRO, the Chandryaaan-3 on August 17 completed its fifth lunar orbit as it separated from the propulsion module and began its descent towards the lunar surface. Announcing this maneuver, ISRO posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), “ ‘Thanks for the ride, mate!' said the Lander Module (LM). LM is successfully separated from the Propulsion Module (PM)”.
The spacecraft will now carry out its latest maneuver today, August 18, and begin its deboosting process. During this phase of the mission, Chandrayaan-3 will slow down and position itself in a lower orbit where its Perilune will be 30 kilometers and Apolune will be about 100 kilometers. ISRO's further posted on X, “LM is set to descend to a slightly lower orbit upon a deboosting planned for tomorrow around 1600 Hrs., IST.”
Chandrayaan-3: What's next?
As per ISRO, Chandrayaan-3 will now carry out two orbit-reduction maneuvers where it will initially enter a lower 100 x 100 km orbit, before settling in a 100 x 30 orbit. The spacecraft will then make its final descent for a lunar touchdown, which is expected to occur on August 23.
On the other hand, the propulsion module will continue in its current orbit for months or even years. The Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload aboard the module will carry out a series of experiments, such as a spectroscopic study of the Earth's atmosphere, measurement of variations in polarization from the clouds on Earth, and collection of Exoplanet signatures that would qualify for our habitability.