India's Chandrayaan-3 rover out on Moon’s surface: What next?

Three mission objectives have been set: To achieve a safe and soft landing; demonstrate 'rover roving' on the moon; and conduct in-situ experiments


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Isro via AP
Isro via AP

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 2:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 2:21 PM

After successfully landing on the moon’s south pole on August 23, India’s Chandrayaan-3 will now explore an uncharted territory — which is believed to hold frozen water. The spacecraft, which consists of a lander, rover, and propulsion module, is equipped with several instruments that will help carry out a series of in-situ scientific experiments on the Moon in a single lunar day, which is equal to 14 days on Earth.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) announced on Thursday that the rover on board the lander has rolled out onto the moon’s surface.

“The Ch-3 [Chandrayaan-3] Rover ramped down from the Lander and India took a walk on the moon!” Isro tweeted.

According to Isro, Chandrayaan-3 has three mission objectives — to achieve a safe and soft landing on the moon; demonstrate “rover roving” on the moon; and conduct in-situ experiments.

Lunar experiments explained

>> For the lander

The lander has four payloads with each having a different objective. The Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) on board the lander will measure the “near-surface plasma (ions and electrons) density and its changes with time,” according to the official page for Chandrayaan-3.

The second experiment, Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE), will be tasked with carrying out the “measurements of thermal properties of the lunar surface near-polar region”.

The lander’s Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) will measure the seismicity around the area where the spacecraft landed while also “delineating the structure of the lunar crust and mantle”.

The lander is also equipped with the Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA), which is a passive experiment that will understand the dynamics of the moon’s system.

>> For the rover

Chandrayaan-3’s rover has two instruments: namely the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). LIBS’ objective is the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the mineral and chemical composition of the moon’s surface. The APXS experiment, meanwhile, has the aim to determine the composition of elements such as magnesium, aluminium, silicon, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron in the soil and rocks around the landing site on the Moon.

>> Propulsion module experiments

The propulsion module, which carried the lander and rover to the 100km lunar orbit, has the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (Shape) on board. Its objective is the future discoveries of smaller planets in reflected light that would allow scientists to look into a variety of Exo-planets that might be habitable.


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