Chandrayaan-3: Three Indian spacecraft are orbiting the Moon after the lander module and propulsion module separated.
On August 17, 2023, at 1:15 p.m. IST, the landing module of Chandrayaan-3 detached from the propulsion module. Following a de-boosting operation scheduled for August 18 at roughly 4:00 p.m. IST, the lander module will descend to a slightly lower orbit. After the lander module and propulsion module separated, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) stated on X (previously Twitter) that the lander module remarked to the propulsion module, ‘Thanks for the ride, mate!’
Following the separation of the lander module and the propulsion module, three Indian spacecraft are now orbiting the Moon. These are the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 and the lander module and propulsion module of Chandrayaan-3.
Chandrayaan-3 is made up of three parts: a lander, a rover, and a propulsion module. The lander module includes the rover, which is housed inside the lander. The propulsion module propelled the lander module into a 100-kilometer circular lunar orbit before disengaging.
While the propulsion module’s mission life is projected to be three to six months, the lander module will only be operational for 14 Earth days, or one lunar day. On August 17, ISRO wrote on X that the propulsion module might stay in lunar orbit for up to a year.
The propulsion module is outfitted with a payload dubbed Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE). SHAPE’s mission is to investigate Earth’s spectral and polarimetric measurements from lunar orbit. This means that SHAPE will investigate Earth’s spectro-polarimetric fingerprints.
According to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Observatory, spectro-polarimetry is a technique for polarizing light by separating the entering light into its constituent colors and then analyzing the polarisation of each color independently.
The SHAPE payload will collect signs of exoplanets that may have characteristics that qualify them for human habitability.
The SHAPE payload was designed by the Unnao Rao Space Centre in Bengaluru.
The propulsion module weights 2,148 kilos and generates 758 Watts of power.
According to ANI, former ISRO scientist Mylswamy Annadurai, the most important achievement is the smooth and secure landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon. He also stated that the Vikram lander must take its own actions.
The lander module weighs 1,752 kg and can generate 738 Watts of electricity.
Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) Rover, and Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) are the payloads on the Vikram lander.
ChasTE will measure the thermal properties of elements on the lunar surface near the south pole, such as thermal conductivity and temperature; ILSA will measure seismicity around the landing site and describe the structure of the lunar crust and mantle; and RAMBHA will study the gas and plasma environment.
The rover has two payloads: the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).
The elemental makeup of the lunar soil and rocks surrounding the landing site will be determined using APXS. Magnesium, aluminum, silica, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron are among the elements to be examined.
LIBS will undertake qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis to determine the lunar surface’s chemical and mineralogical makeup.