Chandrayaan 3: Know about last 20 minutes of terror before Vikram lander's soft-landing on Moon | Mint
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Business News/ Science / News/  Chandrayaan 3: Know about last 20 minutes of terror before Vikram lander's soft-landing on Moon

Chandrayaan 3: Know about last 20 minutes of terror before Vikram lander's soft-landing on Moon

Chandrayaan-3 set to soft-land on Moon's south polar region, overcoming previous technical glitches.

Chandrayaan-3 is all set to make soft landing on Moon surface at around 6 pm on Wednesday (HT_PRINT)Premium
Chandrayaan-3 is all set to make soft landing on Moon surface at around 6 pm on Wednesday (HT_PRINT)

Chandrayaan 3 is set to script history on Wednesday as the Indian spacecraft will be the first to soft-land on Moon's south polar region. In 2019, ISRO attempted a similar mission-Chandrayaan-2 but at that time due to some technical glitches, the lander of the spacecraft got crashed just minutes before landing. Without repeating the same errors, ISRO scientists have redesigned the technology of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, focused on what can fail and how to protect it and ensure a successful landing. ISRO launched Chandrayaan-3 on 14 July and since then, the space agency is sharing information about the significant manoeuvres that the spacecraft underwent in outer space. Now, on Wednesday, ISRO said that at around 18.04 hours, Chandrayaan-3 will land on Moon's surface. While so far the mission has all gone smoothly, scientists are slightly wary about the last 20 minutes.

Read all the live updates on Chandrayaan-3 Moon landing here

Chandrayaan 3 landing today: What is the terror of the last 20 minutes?

The critical process of soft-landing has been dubbed by many including ISRO officials as "20 or 17 minutes of terror". This is because, in these last minutes, the entire process will become autonomous. At this time, the Vikram lander has to fire its engines at the right times and altitudes, use the right amount of fuel, and scan the lunar surface for any obstacles or hills or craters before finally touching down.

After checking all the parameters and deciding to land, ISRO will upload all the required commands from its Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu in Bengaluru to the Lander Module, a couple of hours before the scheduled time touchdown.

According to ISRO officials, for landing, at around 30 km altitude, the lander enters the powered braking phase and begins to use its four thruster engines by "retro firing" them to reach the surface of the moon, by gradually reducing the speed. This is to ensure the lander doesn't crash, as the Moon's gravity will also be in play.

Noting that on reaching an altitude of around 6.8 km, only two engines will be used, shutting down the other two, aimed at giving the reverse thrust to the lander as it descends further, they said, then, on reaching an altitude of about 150-100 metres, the lander using its sensors and cameras, would scan the surface to check whether there are any obstacles and then start descending to make a soft-landing.

ISRO Chairman S Somanath had recently said the most critical part of the landing will be the process of reducing the velocity of the lander from 30 km height to the final landing, and the ability to reorient the spacecraft from horizontal to vertical direction. "This is the trick we have to play here," he said.

After the soft landing, the rover will descend from the lander's belly, onto the Moon's surface, using one of its side panels, which will act as a ramp.

The lander and rover will have a mission life of one lunar day (about 14 earth days) to study the surroundings there.

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 the course of its mobility. They both have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.

According to the ISRO chief, as long as the sun shines all the systems will have their power, he added, "The moment the sun sets, everything will be in pitch darkness, the temperature will go as down as low as minus 180-degree celsius; so it is not possible for the systems to survive, and if it survives further, then we should be happy that once again it has come to life and we will be able to work on the system once again, and we hope like that to happen".

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

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Published: 23 Aug 2023, 07:43 AM IST
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