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Giant step for India: Country joins elite club as Chandrayaan-3 makes soft landing on Moon

Giant step for India: Country joins elite club as Chandrayaan-3 makes soft landing on Moon
  • India becomes the fourth country to master the technology of soft-landing on the lunar surface.
  • India becomes first country to land on the Moon's south pole.
  • PM Modi congratulates the nation and the ISRO scientists via video conferencing.

India has scripted history as ISRO's ambitious third Moon mission Chandrayaan-3's Lander Module (LM) successfully touched down on the lunar surface on Wednesday evening, making it only the fourth country to do so, and first to reach the uncharted south pole of Earth's only natural satellite. The LM comprising the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan), made the touch down near the south polar region of the Moon at 6:04 pm on Wednesday as scheduled.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the scientists and addressed the nation from South Africa where he is attending the BRICS summit. "I congratulate the scientists who have toiled hard to achieve this remarkable feat. India has now reached the South Pole of the Moon and is the first country to do so."

“We can all aspire for the moon and beyond. The Global South is capable of such feats. The moon can go beyond the stories now. ISRO will soon launch Aditya L1 mission and Saturn is also on ISRO’s radar,” Modi added as he joined the landing live.

Its a momentous occasion for the ISRO scientists who were making a second attempt in four years. India has now become the fourth country to master the technology of soft-landing on the lunar surface after the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

“I thank everyone who prayed for us all around the country and beyond. This is the work of a generation of ISRO scientists,” said S Somanath, the chairman of ISRO addressing the media, after the soft landing.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and its objectives are to demonstrate safe and soft-landing on the lunar surface, roving on the Moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments.

Chandrayaan-2 had failed in its lunar phase when its lander 'Vikram' crashed into the surface of the Moon minutes before the touch down following anomalies in the braking system in the lander while attempting a landing on September 7, 2019. Chandrayaan's maiden mission was in 2008.

The Rs 600 crore Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched on July 14 onboard Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM-3) rocket, for a 41-day voyage to reach near the lunar south pole.

The budget of the spacecraft has been discussed a lot with mraket veteran Sunil Singhania tweeting, "Cost of Chandrayaan-3 is Rs 615 crs. Market cap of companies supplying parts to Chandrayaan -3 is up by Rs 50,000 crs today :-)"

India's soft-landing comes days after Russia's Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon after spinning out of control. The critical process of soft-landing had been dubbed by many including ISRO officials as "17 minutes of terror", with the entire process being autonomous when the lander has to fire its engines at the right times and altitudes, use the right amount of fuel, and scan of the lunar surface for any obstacles or hills or craters before finally touching down.

According to ISRO officials, for landing, at around 30 km altitude, the lander entered the powered braking phase, and began to use its four thruster engines by "retro firing" them to reach the surface of the moon, by gradually reducing the speed. This ensured the lander didn't crash.

Instead of a success-based design in Chandrayaan-2, the space agency opted for a failure-based design in Chandrayaan-3, focused on what all can fail and how to protect it and ensure a successful landing, the ISRO chief said.

After the soft-landing, the rover will now descend from the lander's belly, onto the Moon's surface, using one of its side panels, which will act as a ramp. On landing the lander may have to face the challenge of lunar dust due to firing of onboard engines close to lunar surface.

The lander and rover will have a mission life of one lunar day (about 14 earth days) to study the surroundings there. However, ISRO officials do not rule out the possibility of them coming to life for another lunar day.

The lander has the capability to soft-land at a specified lunar site and deploy the rover which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility. Both have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.

Polar regions of the moon are a very different terrain due to the environment and the difficulties they present and therefore have remained unexplored. All the previous spacecraft to have reached the Moon landed in the equatorial region, a few degrees latitude north or south of the lunar equator.

The Moon's south pole region is also being explored because there could be a possibility of presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it.

Recap: Everything you want to know about the Chandrayaan-3 landing

(With text inputs from PTI)


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