Chandrayaan-3: ISRO Moon mission soars to new heights, know what’s happening up there

Chandrayaan-3, the propulsion spacecraft, is soaring high above the Moon, and here’s what it’s up to. Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third mission to explore the Moon. It was sent into space by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on August 23. The mission’s main goal was to safely land the Vikram Lander and the Pragyan Rover, which it was carrying, on to the Moon’s surface. Only three countries have accomplished this feat so far. This mission follows the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which unfortunately failed to land softly on the Moon nearly four years ago in September 2019. However, the spacecraft is still orbiting the Moon.

Chandrayaan-3: Stunning Images from Space

Recently, some exciting new pictures of Chandrayaan-3 have been shared. ISRO released these images on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday, September 9. However, right now, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is not active. It’s because the part of the Moon where the mission landed is in darkness for two weeks, which means all the equipment that relies on sunlight is in sleep mode.

When the Sun’s rays return, Chandrayaan-3’s lander and its small rover Pragyan may wake up from their nap. According to ISRO officials, these two have already achieved most of their main objectives. Pragyan, the rover, successfully rolled out from its lander, Vikram, and even took some pictures of the Moon’s surroundings.

This is not the first time that an Indian mission to the Moon has been captured from space. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft that takes high-definition images while orbiting the Moon, also spotted Chandrayaan-3 earlier this month.

The Chandrayaan-3 propulsion module, used to transport Vikram lander and Pragyan rover, has not retired after its mission. It is in orbit around the Moon and it will explore new objectives like searching for extraterrestrial life, equipped with the SHAPE instrument. While in the Moon’s orbit, it will study Earth’s atmosphere, gathering data on polarization of light from our planet’s clouds. This data may identify habitable planets for future relocation or signs of alien life. It also facilitates communication between the lander, rover, and Earth. Unlike its predecessor, this module carries only one scientific instrument, learning from Chandrayaan-2’s mistakes.

The Future of Moon Exploration

India is now the fourth country ever to land on the Moon, joining the ranks of the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. And there might be more moon missions on the horizon. NASA, the United States’ space agency, has funded several robotic missions as part of its Artemis program. Some of these missions could land on the Moon as early as 2023. The goal of the Artemis program is to establish a permanent human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the 2020s. The first human surface mission in the series, Artemis 3, is scheduled to launch in late 2025 or 2026.

Many countries, including India, are interested in exploring the Moon’s south pole to learn more about the ice deposits there. NASA plans to set up one or more bases in this area, using lunar ice to support astronauts and equipment.

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