ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Counting down: Launch of Chandrayaan-3 Mission


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chandrayaan-3

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch the Chandrayaan 3 mission on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  • This mission follows the Chandrayaan 2, which encountered technical issues and crash-landed on the moon in September 2019.

Chandrayaan-3: Mission Details and Landing

  • Launch Vehicle: Chandrayaan 3 will be launched aboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket.
  • Landing Site: The spacecraft is expected to land near the moon’s South Pole.
  • Operational Duration: Chandrayaan 3 will operate on the lunar surface for one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.

Significance of the Lunar South Pole

  • Scientific Interest: The lunar South Pole is a compelling location due to the presence of towering massifs and permanently shadowed craters that may contain volatile compounds and water-ice deposits.
  • Planetary Formation Insights: Studying the South Pole-Aitken Basin’s age and impact melt could provide insights into planetary formation.
  • Valuable Resource: Volatile deposits at the South Pole could serve as a valuable resource for future exploration and astrobiology investigations.
  • Solar Power Potential: Some mountain peaks near the pole receive extended periods of sunlight, making them potential sites for continuous solar power supply.
  • Fossil Record: Craters at the South Pole may contain a fossil record of the early Solar System, providing valuable scientific data.

Choosing the South Pole over the North Pole

  • Permanent Darkness: The larger shadowy region at the lunar South Pole, which remains in permanent darkness, makes it suitable for studying unilluminated areas.
  • Aitken Basin Edge: The South Pole is located at the edge of the Aitken Basin, the largest impact basin in the Solar System.
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter collects data over the South Pole region, enhancing the scientific understanding of the area.
  • Longer Lunar Day-Night Cycle: The Moon’s longer rotation cycle (around 30 days) results in extended periods of day and night, making the South Pole more accessible.

Trajectory and Landing Procedure

  • Similar to Chandrayaan 2: Chandrayaan 3 will follow a trajectory similar to Chandrayaan 2, utilizing a propulsion module to orbit Earth before heading to the moon.
  • Lunar Orbit and Landing: Once within the moon’s gravitational pull, the module will lower itself to a 100 x 100 km circular orbit. The lander will then detach and descend to the lunar surface.

Scientific Payloads

  • The Lander: The lander, named ‘Vikram,’ will deploy four scientific payloads to study the moon’s surface temperature and subterranean characteristics.
  • The Rover: The rover, named ‘Pragyan,’ will conduct chemical and visual tests as it roves around the lunar surface.

Objectives of Chandrayaan 3

  • Safe Landing Demonstration: Chandrayaan 3 aims to demonstrate safe and soft landing on the lunar surface.
  • Rover Roving Capability: The mission will showcase the capability of the rover to traverse the lunar surface.
  • In-situ Scientific Experiments: Chandrayaan 3 will conduct in-situ scientific experiments on the moon.

Development and Delay

  • Development Phase: The development phase for Chandrayaan 3 began in January 2020, with scientists and engineers working on the spacecraft’s design and assembly.
  • Manufacturing Delays: The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the manufacturing and testing of the propulsion systems.
  • Launch Schedule: The launch, initially planned for early 2021, was postponed due to the pandemic. The spacecraft is now set to launch in July 2023.

Importance of Chandrayaan 3

  • India’s Third Lunar Mission: Chandrayaan 3 is India’s third lunar mission and the second attempt at a soft landing on the moon.
  • Renewed Interest in Lunar Exploration: In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in exploring the moon following Chandrayaan-1’s discovery of water on the lunar surface.


  • Chandrayaan 3 represents India’s continuous efforts to explore the moon and achieve a soft landing.
  • The mission’s success will contribute to scientific advancements and further our understanding of the lunar surface.
  • As space agencies around the world plan future lunar missions, humanity’s return to the moon seems imminent after more than five decades.

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