CHANDRAYAAN: ISRO’s QUEST TO EXPLORE THE LUNAR TERRAIN

Chandrayaan-3 shines brightly as a symbol of India’s astral hope and exploration in the vast space of our universe, where mythology and science come together.
CHANDRAYAAN: ISRO’s QUEST TO EXPLORE THE LUNAR TERRAIN

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has undertaken several remarkable moon missions, marking India's significant contributions to lunar exploration. These endeavours exemplify India's pursuit of space exploration, scientific research, and technological advancements. From its inaugural mission Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 to the more ambitious Chandrayaan-3, ISRO had and is making impressive strides in unfolding the mysteries of the Moon. These missions have not only expanded our knowledge of Earth's celestial neighbor but have also solidified India's position in the global space community.

The recent launch of Chandrayaan-3 took place on 14 July 2023 and the lunar injection was success as a part of Phase one. However, the lander and rover are expected to land near South Pole on 23 August 2023. This was a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and will demonstrate India’s capability in safe landing and roving on the moon’s surface. With this, India is striving towards becoming the fourth country in accomplishing a gentle touchdown on the moon following the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and Israel. All except Israel were successful in achieving a soft landing on the lunar surface. India successfully launched three Chandrayaan missions to space which were instrumental and historic for their discoveries.

Chandrayaan-1:

The Chandrayaan-1 mission was its first exploratory mission to the moon, in fact to any heavenly body in the space. It was designed to just orbit and make observations with the help of the instruments. As a symbolic gesture, the Chandrayaan-1 mission intentionally crash-landed one of its instruments on the surface of the moon. This instrument was the Moon Impact Probe (MIP), weighing 35-kg featuring the Indian tricolour on all sides. Additionally, ISRO asserts that during its journey, the MIP transmitted data providing evidence of water’s presence on the Moon. This confirmation of presence of water was also given by another on board instrument, which is M3 of NASA.

Chandrayaan-2:

Chandrayaan-2 was a logical progression on Chandrayaan-1 and a more sophisticated mission with various objectives. It was India’s first lander mission consisting of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon. ISRO had named the Lander module as Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme. ISRO designed, developed and build the lander on its own. Despite meticulous planning and technical expertise, the mission encountered a setback during its lunar landing phase. The Orbiter and rover performed admirably during their journey but a technical glitch aroused during the critical phase. The communication got lost during its landing and as a result, Vikram lost its trajectory and subsequently crashed landed on the surface. The lunar South Pole presents a challenging terrain with extreme temperatures and areas that are in permanent shadow, receiving no sunlight. So, it becomes a challenge to land on South Pole. Although there were some challenges during the descent, Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to function successfully. It continues to gather valuable data like, Terrain Mapping Camera’s images, data on water ice deposits, mineral mapping etc., about the moon.

Chandrayaan-3:

Chandrayaan-3 shines brightly as a symbol of India’s astral hope and exploration in the vast space of our universe, where mythology and science come together. It demonstrates India's resolute commitment to unfold the mysteries of the moon. Chandrayaan-3 is India's second venture to achieve a soft landing on the Moon's surface. This ambitious project aims to land successfully on the moon and deploy a rover to conduct experiments and gather vital data. The mission is primarily focuses on studying the moon's geology, mineralogy, and exosphere, which will significantly contribute to our understanding of its origin and evolution. The three main objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are:

·       To demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, to demonstrate rover roving capabilities on the moon and to conduct scientific experiments.

·       To achieve the mission objectives, several advanced technologies are present in Lander such as laser & RF-based Altimeters, Velocimeters, Propulsion System, etc.

Through Chandrayaan-3, India demonstrates its technological prowess, scientific capabilities, and its commitment to space exploration further solidifying its position in the global space community if the mission proves successful.

ISRO Position in the Global World:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) holds a prominent position among space agencies globally. ISRO has achieved significant milestones and made remarkable progress in space exploration and satellite technology over the years.

Some of ISRO's notable achievements include:

·       Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan): In 2014, ISRO became the first space agency to successfully send a Mars Orbiter in its maiden attempt, making India the first Asian country to reach Mars orbit and the fourth space agency in the world to do so.

·       Navigation Satellites: ISRO has deployed a series of navigation satellites under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), now known as NavIC, to provide accurate position information services over India and the surrounding region.

·       Earth Observation Satellites: ISRO has launched numerous earth observation satellites like the IRS series, providing valuable data for agriculture, weather forecasting, disaster management, and environmental monitoring.

ISRO's cost-effective and indigenous approach to space missions has garnered international recognition and respect. The organization has also engaged in collaborative efforts with other space agencies, demonstrating India's commitment to peaceful cooperation in space exploration. However, please note that the space industry is continually evolving, and there may have been further developments in ISRO's position. Some of the notable upcoming missions that will create a niche for ISRO in the upcoming future are:

·       Gaganyaan: ISRO's ambitious human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, aimed to send Indian astronauts (Gagannauts) into space. The mission would consist of crewed spacecraft launched using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV Mk III) and carry a crew of up to three astronauts.

·       Aditya-L1: Aditya-L1 was a solar observation mission designed to study the Sun from a stable orbit around the first Lagrangian point (L1), about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. The mission's primary focus was to study the Sun's corona and its impact on the Earth's climate.

·       Venus Mission: ISRO planned a mission to Venus, aiming to explore the planet's surface and atmosphere. The Venus mission aimed to study Venusian geology, surface composition, and its dense atmosphere to better understand the planet's evolution.

·       Exoworlds: ISRO planned to launch a mission to study exoplanets, known as Exoworlds, which are planets outside our solar system. The mission aimed to search for potential habitable exoplanets and study their characteristics.

·       Mangalyaan-2 (Mars Orbiter Mission 2): ISRO envisioned a second mission to Mars after the success of the Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) in 2014. The Mangalyaan-2 mission aimed to further explore the Martian atmosphere and surface.

ISRO's commitment to space research extends beyond national boundaries, fostering international collaboration and contributing to global scientific endeavours. The launch of satellites for various countries through commercial partnerships has solidified India's position as a reliable and competitive player in the space industry. As ISRO continues to push boundaries and explore new frontiers, it remains firmly dedicated to utilizing space technology for the betterment of society, from providing critical services like communication and weather forecasting to promoting education and research. As India's space agency continues to inspire and enthral the world with its achievements, ISRO serves as a shining example of how dedication, innovation, and scientific pursuit can unlock the mysteries of space and benefit humanity as a whole. With each launch, ISRO soars higher, making India proud and contributing to the advancement of space science for the betterment of our planet and beyond.

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