The highly anticipated mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Chandrayaan-3, is set to land on the lunar surface on the evening of August 23. Before this, ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2, but it was unable to make a successful landing on the surface.
If the Chandrayaan-3 mission succeeds, it will mark another significant achievement for India in the field of space exploration. In the meantime, it’s important to understand what Chandrayaan-3 is, who is behind its development, and how it differs from Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2.
What is Chandrayaan-3?
According to ISRO officials, Chandrayaan-3 is the next phase of the Chandrayaan-2 mission. It will descend to the lunar surface and conduct tests, similar to Chandrayaan-2. The Chandrayaan-3 mission, like its predecessor, includes a lander and a rover. The primary focus of Chandrayaan-3 is to achieve a safe landing on the lunar surface. New instruments have been developed for the mission, and the algorithms have been improved based on the lessons learned from Chandrayaan-2’s mission.
The mission took flight on July 14 at 2:35 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. If all goes according to plan, it will touch down on the moon on August 23. A successful Chandrayaan-3 mission will make India the fourth country in the world, following the United States, Russia, and China, to achieve a soft landing on the moon.
How is Chandrayaan-3 Different from Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2?
Unlike Chandrayaan-2, Chandrayaan-3 does not include an orbiter. It comprises a lander and a rover, with the aim of working on the lunar surface for about one Earth day (approximately 14 lunar days) and collecting data. After landing, the rover will detach from the lander and explore the lunar surface while gathering data.
Chandrayaan-2, on the other hand, attempted to perform a soft landing of its Vikram lander on the lunar surface. It also deployed a six-wheeled robotic rover for various scientific investigations. Chandrayaan-1 weighed 1380 kilograms at liftoff, whereas Chandrayaan-2 weighed 3850 kilograms.
Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar mission, launched on October 22, 2008, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota. It remained operational for 312 days and completed more than 3,400 lunar orbits before losing contact.
Key Figure Behind Chandrayaan-3
Leading scientist P. Veeramuthuvel is the chief architect of Chandrayaan-3 and currently holds the position of Project Director for the Chandrayaan missions. He hails from Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. Veeramuthuvel pursued his schooling in Villupuram Railway School, completed a diploma in mechanical engineering from a private polytechnic college, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering from a private college in Chennai.
He further pursued a master’s degree in engineering from another private engineering college and then secured admission to IIT Madras for his Ph.D. Veeramuthuvel’s father, P. Palanivel, mentioned, “He had many opportunities, including government jobs, but he did not join any. His dream came true in 2014 when he was selected as a scientist in ISRO.”
Veeramuthuvel is the key figure behind Chandrayaan-3 and has taken up the mantle of Director for the Chandrayaan missions after M. Vanitha. He has demonstrated his expertise and specialization in this field. In addition to leading the Chandrayaan-3 mission, Veeramuthuvel played a significant role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission, coordinating with NASA and contributing to the project’s scientific aspects.