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Chandrayaan-3 most significant milestone for planetary exploration: former ISRO chief

Chandrayaan-3 most significant milestone for planetary exploration: former ISRO chief
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], August 23 (ANI): Ahead of the much-awaited soft landing of the country's third moon mission -- Chandrayaan-3, former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair spoke to and delved into how this mission is significant for overall spacefaring for India and also about the last-minute manoeuvres.

"The last leg of its operation and everybody is anxiously looking forward to this great event. As far as the Indian space program is concerned, this is going to be the most significant milestone for planetary exploration. Of course, in the past, we have made an attempt to land on the lunar surface, but unfortunately, it did not succeed at the time. Since then, ISRO has done considerable studies and simulations and strengthened the designs and provided redundancies so that the mission success probability can be improved," he said.

The scheduled timing for the soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the moon's south pole on August 23, 2023 (Wednesday), is around 18:04 IST, with the powered descent of Vikram lander expected at 1745 IST.

With all set for a soft landing, he said the last 20 minutes where the powered descending from the lunar orbit to the lunar surface will take place, is going to be the most challenging moment in the history of this mission.

"As far as this soft landing is concerned, not many people have succeeded. It is only USA, Russia and China have succeeded so far to land on the south pole of the Moon. Of course, recently, the Luna spacecraft of Russia also crashed and landed on the lunar surface. Considering all this background, we have to really make sure everything is normal and perfect before the landing operation takes place," he said.

"The landing operation involves first reducing the velocity of the spacecraft from 1.6 kilometre per second to a few hundred meters per second and then making it over at a low altitude, taking pictures of the lunar surface and identifying the spot where it can safely land. There are rocks and there are craters and valleys in the region. So one has to really choose the spot on which the landing can take place safely. And this operation will be done in the last minute or so."

"And that is the most important event which is as far as the mission is concerned. After reaching identifying the spot, the thrusters again will slowly bring the spacecraft to the lunar surface. After landing there, the rover is suspected to move out and then have the investigation in the southern polar region for about 14 days. It will collect data about the minerals which are there, identify the water sources and also the helium three and so on," he added.

"So this is a very significant event as far as ISRO is concerned, and everybody is anxiously looking forward to the successful completion of this event" said Madhavan Nair.

In its latest update on Chandrayaan-3 soft landing, ISRO has said the mission is on schedule and systems are undergoing regular checks.

This mission, if it turns out to be fruitful, will make India the only country to have marked its presence on the lunar south pole which is considered to be difficult for its rough and harsh conditions, and fourth - after US, China, and Russia - to have successfully landed on the moon's surface.

Historically, spacecraft missions to the Moon have primarily targeted the equatorial region due to its favourable terrain and operating conditions. However, the lunar south pole presents a vastly different and more challenging terrain compared to the equatorial region.

The spacecraft was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota on July 14. Ever since the July 14 launch, ISRO has been maintaining that the health of the spacecraft remains "normal".

Chandrayaan-3's development phase commenced in January 2020, with the launch planned sometime in 2021. However, the Covid-19 pandemic brought an unforeseen delay to the mission's progress. (ANI)

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