India Successfully Lands Spacecraft Near Moon’s South Pole
India has become the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole. The Chandrayaan-3 mission overcame numerous challenges before its historic touchdown on the lunar surface. In an interview with CNN-Smartkhabrinews, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman S Somanath discussed the challenges faced during the mission and plans for future projects.
Health of Lander and Rover
After the successful landing, the health of the lander and rover was a topic of interest. Somanath stated that both the rover and the lander are in good health and working well. However, scientific experiments are yet to begin and more time is required.
The Final Phase of Landing
The final phase of landing, described as “15 minutes of terror,” was a crucial period. Somanath stated that there was no anxiety or surprises during that time as the landing followed the trajectory designed by the ISRO. The landing was a textbook precision landing, resulting in a successful touchdown.
Challenges on the Lunar Surface
The lunar surface poses several challenges that the mission is experiencing for the first time. Moving objects can get tangled with the dust, jamming moving parts and causing problems in the mechanism. Additionally, the special dust on the moon can stick to materials due to the absence of atmospheric air, which may also create issues. Temperature is another challenge that the mission will face. The ISRO will face these challenges as they occur and learn from the experience.
Data Collection and Analysis
A separate mechanism has been established for the collection and analysis of the large amount of data that will be collected. A committee comprised of investigators and co-investigators from each payload will collaborate to make sense of the data. The Indian scientific community will be the first to use the data, after which it will be made accessible to the entire world after a specified lock-in period.
When asked about future goals, Somanath mentioned the possibility of bringing back samples from the moon. He stated that all the missions are aimed at enhancing understanding and demonstrating technological capabilities. Bringing samples back from the moon will be considered in the future depending on the ability to do so. The ISRO has plans for missions to Mars, Venus, and other planets, as well as the possibility of going beyond our solar system.
Reasons for Choosing the South Pole
The south pole was chosen due to its lower sun heat and light, which creates possibilities for scientific research. Scientists have hypothesized that larger deposits of water may be found beneath the surface in this region. Landing near the south pole also presents a challenge, and India achieved this as the first country to do so.
Ganganyaan and Other Projects
The Ganganyaan project is progressing well, with human rating on the GSLV Mk 3 completed. A crew module and crew escape system have been developed and will undergo testing. The ISRO has a well-defined roadmap for future projects, including missions to Mars, regular launches of various vehicles, and updates to the NISAR project.
Inspiring the Younger Generation
Somanath emphasized that Chandrayaan-3 is a milestone in India’s space program and marks a transition point technologically and in terms of policy. The mission is not only a technological demonstration but also an inspiration for the younger generation. The space sector in India is going through a transformation, with advancements in technology, science, and the development of ecosystems.
Advancements in Technological Capabilities
The development of in-house instruments like LDV and hazard detection and avoidance cameras showcases the technological capabilities of the ISRO. These systems, which are not easily available for procurement, have been developed in their labs and are a technological backup for satellite and launch vehicle programs.
Commercial Space Market
While experts believe that the successful soft landing will enhance ISRO’s commercial space market share, Somanath clarifies that ISRO is not interested in doing business directly. Instead, the technologies developed by ISRO are being transferred to the industry to generate revenue and business. ISRO’s focus is on research and technology development, as technological advancements lead to growth in the commercial space market.