Chandrayaan-3: Lunar Triumphs and Cosmic Discoveries

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In a historic feat, the Chandrayaan-3 mission achieved a successful landing of its Vikram lander on the moon’s surface at an impressive latitude of 69.37° south and 32.35° east near the Manzinus U crater. This marked the highest-ever latitude reached during a soft moon landing, supported by the European Space Agency’s ESTRACK tracking station in Australia.


Vikram, the lander, and its rover Pragyaan conducted extensive data and image collection in the lunar region for about ten days. The collected information was transmitted back to Earth for analysis. After completing their designated tasks, Pragyaan went into sleep mode on September 2, followed by Vikram on September 4.


ISRO had hopes of reactivating the lander after the lunar night, which ended on September 22. However, both Vikram and Pragyaan lacked systems to maintain warmth in extremely cold lunar temperatures that could drop to as low as -190°C. Despite numerous attempts, no signals were received from the duo, and they remained dormant.


Before its deactivation, Pragyaan covered an impressive distance of more than 100 meters, considering its speed of just 1 cm/s. Its ability to move its wheels independently allowed it to navigate diverse terrains and avoid descending into craters in the moon’s south polar region.


One of the mission’s key findings was the temperature contrast between the lunar surface and just below it. Surface temperatures were observed at nearly 60°C, sharply decreasing below the surface to -10°C at a depth of 80 mm. This temperature variation has implications for potential lunar habitat construction.


Pragyaan’s laser detector measured various elements on the lunar surface, including sulphur, which is typically associated with volcanic activity. This finding contributes to our understanding of the moon’s history and its potential for plant growth in a lunar habitat.


Vikram’s Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) monitored vibrations and recorded a natural event that could have been a Moonquake or the result of lunar impact. It also conducted measurements of the lunar plasma environment, revealing it to be relatively sparse and less disruptive to radio communication.


Finally, Vikram’s successful “hop experiment” demonstrated its capability to restart its engines after a lunar landing, paving the way for future missions, such as sample return or supporting human endeavors in space.

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