Chandrayaan-3: India's third moon mission set for launch on July 14

The lander and rover each have their own set of instruments for conducting lunar surface exploration.
Mrigakshi Dixit
The LVM3 M4 vehicle is moved to the launch pad for the final stage preparation.
The LVM3 M4 vehicle is moved to the launch pad for the final stage preparation.


The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is attempting yet another soft landing of a robotic rover and lander on the lunar surface. 

According to the latest ISRO announcement, India's long-awaited moon mission Chandrayaan-3 is all set for launch on July 14 at 2.35 pm IST. 

Ahead of its launch, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft has been stacked atop the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) rocket at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. 

If all goes according to plan, the chosen date for the soft landing is likely August 23-24.

The mission objective

The Chandrayaan-3 mission, which comprises a robotic lander and rover, is a follow-up to the Chandrayaan-2, which failed to make a soft landing. 

The mission objectives are similar to those of Chandryaan-2. The primary goal is to demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface. And show the rover's operation on the lunar surface, as well as conduct in-situ scientific investigations using a variety of payloads equipped on the rover and lander. 

This is the third mission in India's Chandrayaan moon exploration program.

In October 2008, India launched its first deep space mission, Chandrayaan 1, which included a lunar orbiter and an impactor. This maiden mission was crucial in discovering water molecules on the lunar surface. 

This impactor was deliberately smashed on the lunar surface near the south pole in search of water ice. And it did so effectively, calibrating its discovery using data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper sensor aboard the Chandrayaan 1 orbiter. 

The successor mission Chandrayaan 2, comprised of an orbiter, lander, and rover, was launched in July 2019. The orbiter was successfully injected into the lunar orbiter and is still studying the Moon using its eight research instruments. Unfortunately, the lander-rover pair crashed during this soft landing attempt. The vehicle's braking thrusters likely caused this failure.

Payloads for this new mission

For Chandrayaan-3, the lander and rover have their instruments for conducting lunar surface exploration. The lander module weighs around 1752 kg, including the rover of 26 kg. 

The lander is intended to make a soft landing on the Moon and release a rover. 

“The Lander will have 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 its mobility,” mentioned the ISRO’s mission description

The lander is outfitted with instruments for measuring the thermal properties of the surface near the pole, plasma density, and seismic activity. According to ISRO, the lander is also equipped with a NASA passive Laser Retroreflector Array instrument for lunar laser range investigations.

While rover instruments will primarily analyze the chemical composition of elements and minerals found in lunar soil and rocks. 

Additionally, one payload is on the propulsion module, which carries the lander from launch injection to lunar orbit. Its purpose is to analyze the spectral features of Earth from deep space to identify viable candidates for future searches for possibly life-supporting exoplanets.

The mission life of the lunar lander and rover is one lunar day, which is about 14 Earth days.

If the mission is a success, it will be a significant milestone in India's deep space exploration endeavors. Only the Soviet Union, the United States, and China have successfully soft-landed a craft on the Moon.

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