INDIA: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch its third lunar exploration mission named ‘Chandrayaan-3’. The Chandrayaan-3 mission will be launched in August 2022. The mission is reportedly in progress based on an analysis of learnings from the previous lunar mission.
India’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Dr. Jitendra Singh told this to the Indian Parliament in a written reply related to the status of the mission.
“Many related hardware and their special tests are successfully completed, the Launch is scheduled for August 2022,” Singh added.
India’s future lunar missions
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch activities had taken a backseat. However now, India has got 19 lunar missions scheduled for this year. The missions include four technology demonstration missions, seven spacecraft missions, and eight launch vehicle missions.
Former chairman of ISRO Dr. AS Kiran Kumar explained that Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 in a recent webinar. The lunar mission is meant to demonstrate lunar landing and roving capability.
During the webinar, Kumar said, “The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft would consist of a lander and rover carried on a propulsion module. The factors that led to the unsuccessful Lunar landing of the Chandrayaan-2 lander were being taken care of in the latest mission”.
About scientific payloads that are being carried on-board the lander and rover, he said, “The payloads on lander are Langmuir probe, Chandra’s Surface Thermo Physical Experiment (ChaSTE) and Instrument for Lunar seismic activity (ILSA). The rover payloads are Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser-Induced Breakdown spectroscope (LIBS)”.
The Chandrayaan-3 lander is planned to perform an in-situ ChaSTE experiment of surface and sub-surface measurements of temperature.
It is the only instrument in contact with the lunar surface/ subsurface and that is was the first-ever in-situ thermal measurement of the Lunar High Altitude region.
“It is meant to help understand the thermal exchange and physical properties of the uppermost Lunar soil. A thermal probe of 10cm length would be deployed on the Lunar surface to perform the experiment,” he said.
In 2008, India began its lunar exploration journey. Chandrayaan-1 was the first lunar mission by ISRO. India’s second lunar mission was carried out in 2019. While the first mission in 2008 was successful, the 2019 mission Chandrayaan-2 failed to land on the lunar surface. The lander failed to make a smooth soft landing and was unable to bring down its speed to the required level.
Only an orbiter from this mission continues to circle the moon and is expected to perform remote sensing and mapping operations and relay the data back to earth for the next few years. The lander and the rover it contained got destroyed after a crash landing.
Around 2024-25, India and Japan are expected to launch a joint Lunar mission dubbed as ‘LUPEX‘ or Lunar Polar Exploration Mission. This probe is meant to land at the Lunar South pole with a rover that weighs up to 350kg.
This mission is expected to have a life of up to six months. The details of the mission were revealed by Dr. Kiran Kumar, in the webinar.