INDIA’S LUNAR PROGRAMMES
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, India created history by becoming the first country to land a craft in the lunar south pole, beating other space faring nations.
ABOUT RECENT ACHIEVEMENT OF ISRO:
- Chandrayaan-3 created history at 6.04 pm on 23 August when its lander, called Vikram, safely touched down on the lunar surface.
- India thus became only the fourth nation in the world, after the US, the former Soviet Union and China, to soft land an object on the moon.
- India also became the first to do so on the far side of moon.
- Chandrayaan-3 was launched on 14 July using Isro’s LMV3 rocket.
- The objective: to demonstrate soft landing and roving capabilities on the lunar surface.
- Besides, at ₹650 crore, the mission cost less than that other scientific hit—Oppenheimer (₹820 crore).
ABOUT VIKRAM’S MISSION:
- Vikram lander carries a rover, named Pragyan, which will move around and conduct chemical analyses of the surface of the moon near the landing site.
- Pragyan will check the chemical composition of the lunar surface, and examine the lunar soil and rocks.
- It will measure the ions and electrons density and the thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region.
- This will be the first of its kind study as no other country has ever ventured to the moon’s south pole.
- The lander also carries payloads to study thermal conductivity, measure lunar seismic activity and estimate plasma density, among other activities.
- The experiments by Pragyan will be carried out over one lunar day (equivalent to 14 earth days).
- The propulsion module which brought the spacecraft from its injected orbit to within 100 kilometres of the moon also has a scientific payload.
- This will look for exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system.
HOW DID ISRO RECTIFIED CHANDRAYAAN –2 MISTAKE ?
- In September 2019 Chandrayaan-2 failed, in the last moments, to soft land the lander on the moon.
- Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-up with same mission objective and architecture.
- Isro scientists spent four years analyzing and rectifying errors.
- The lander’s engine configuration was changed.
- It was made sturdier and carried more fuel for any contingency.
- The velocity at the start of the landing process is almost 1.68 km per second, but this speed is horizontal to the surface of the moon.
- The Chandrayaan-3 here is tilted almost 90 degrees, it has to become vertical.
- So, this whole process of turning from horizontal to vertical is a very interesting calculation mathematically.
- A lot of simulations are done at this stage. It is here where Chandrayaan –2 had the problem last time.
INDIA’S OTHER LUNAR PROGRAMMES:
- Isro has ambitious lunar plans.
- It wants to send a mission that will survive a lunar night (again, 14 earth days) without solar power.
- It wants to drill the moon and test the sample on site to start with, and eventually bring the samples back home to earth.
- A race has begun among space powers to explore the moon.
- China wants to set up a base there by 2030 and the US has announced the Artemis programme to put a man on the moon again by 2025.
- However, Russia’s recent mission LUNA-25, attempt to soft land on the moon failed.
- Chandrayaan is designed to develop technologies needed for inter-planetary missions.
- Space powers are also looking at mining the moon for resources such as helium and rare metals that are desperately needed.
- India can now think on similar lines and also look for signs of water.
SYLLABUS: MAINS, GS-3, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY