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Chandrayaan Mission UPSC NOTE

 


Chandrayaan-1

  • ISRO’s first attempt was the Chandrayaan 1 (“Lunar Vehicle 1”) mission.

  • It began in October 2008 with a launch of the very successful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

  • The rocket carried a lunar orbiter meant to go around the moon, like a satellite and an impact probe.

  • The orbiter relieved the impact probe to hit the surface of the south polar region of the moon, to generate data relevant to designing a lunar rover that would be a part of the payload in a subsequent mission.

  • While descending to the moon, the impactor probe collected information on the chemical composition of the lunar atmosphere. 

  • Notably, this mission established the availability of water molecules on the moon, a discovery that may be crucial for future crewed missions.

  • The probe also carved the national flag of India on the Moon, announcing the country’s arrival.

  • The mission did not last two years as planned, possibly due to overheating issues in the orbiter, but it achieved most of its scientific objectives. 


Chandrayaan-2

  • The next such mission was Chandrayaan 2 in July 2019.

  • It was launched by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). 

  • Its payload included a moon lander that carried a rover to release on the moon. 

  • The lander, unfortunately, crashed on the lunar surface due to a software glitch, and the rover did not detach from the lander, so further studies of the moon’s surface were impossible.

  • A Chennai-based amateur space enthusiast named Shanmuga Subramanian, skilled in aimage analysis, identified the location of the lander’s debris, and NASA later confirmed it. 

    • Participation by citizens in big science projects is a welcome trend and researchers should strive to create such opportunities.

Chandrayaan-3

  • Currently, ISRO is planning Chandrayaan-3 to demonstrate end-to-end capability for safe landing and roving on the lunar surface. 

  • The launch is scheduled for July 14 at 2.35 pm.

  • The mission will be launched on board the Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM 3, a.k.a. GSLV Mk III). 

  • The vehicle will carry a lander attached to a propulsion module. 

  • The latter will carry the former to a circular orbit around the moon, after which the lander will descend to the surface. 

  • The lander module will carry a rover that it will deploy on the moon, and a few other pieces of scientific equipment. 

  • The lander and the rover are expected to be operational for about two weeks.

  • As in previous missions, the scientific mission will study the chemical composition of the lunar surface, local seismic activity, and plasma concentration, among other features. 

  • The propulsion module will have a payload called ‘Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth’ (SHAPE).

  • SHAPE will track radiation from the earth to help identify the signatures of life, which future missions can use in turn to look for signs of life on habitable exoplanets. 

  • So Chandrayaan-3 is also to look beyond the Moon.

  • Lessons learned from Chandrayaan-2 will help avoid design deficiencies that are likely to contribute to failures. 

  • Some such ‘upgrades’ already include strengthened legs on the lander and software updated to include failure scenarios.

Importance of the missions

  • Missions like Chandrayaan are important because many countries participate in them.

  • These missions are collaborative global efforts that strengthen scientific exchange and friendship between countries.

South-polar region of the Moon:

  • There is scope for international collaboration in future missions to explore the south-polar region of the Moon. 

  • The craters here have locations that don’t receive sunlight. 

  • These shadowed sites are cold and hold hydrogen, water, and ice. 

  • They could also host primordial material that could help us understand the origins of the Solar System. 

  • The biggest lunar crater is also in the south polar region. 

  • The origin of this crater, which formed about 4 billion years ago, is still unclear. 

  • Gaining insights about the cosmos.

  • Space technologies have also become essential for weather prediction, assessment of marine resources, estimation of forest cover, communication, defence – to just name a few.

  • Every country needs technologies of both futuristic and immediately relevant varieties, together with a well-thought-out apportionment of resources between these two areas.

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