Chandrayaan 3 is the third lunar exploration mission undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The mission consists of a lander, a rover, and a propulsion module. The lander is named Vikram, after the founder of ISRO, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. The rover is named Pragyan, which means “wisdom” in Sanskrit. The propulsion module behaves like a communication relay satellite.
The primary goal of Chandrayaan 3 is to soft-land a lander on the lunar surface and deploy a rover. The mission is also tasked with collecting data on the lunar surface and performing scientific experiments. The lander will be equipped with a number of instruments, including a camera, a spectrometer, and a magnetometer. The rover will be equipped with a drill and a spectrometer.
Chandrayaan 3 was launched on July 14, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Srihari Kota, India. The spacecraft is currently in orbit around the Moon and is scheduled to land on the lunar surface on August 23, 2023.
The success of Chandrayaan 3 would be a major milestone for India’s space program. It would be the first time that India has successfully landed a spacecraft on the Moon. The mission would also help India to learn more about the lunar surface and its potential resources.
The Anatomy of Chandrayaan 3
- The lander: The lander is designed to land on the lunar surface at a speed of about 2 kilometers per hour. The lander will use a combination of retrorockets and a parachute to slow down its descent. The lander will also use a landing radar to help it to land safely.
- The rover: The rover is designed to travel up to 5 kilometers on the lunar surface. The rover will be equipped with a drill that can be used to collect samples of the lunar soil. The rover will also be equipped with a spectrometer that can be used to analyze the composition of the lunar soil.
- The propulsion module: The propulsion module will be used to place the lander and rover into lunar orbit. The propulsion module will also be used to help the lander to land on the lunar surface.
What went wrong with Chandrayaan 2’s flight software?
The Chandrayaan 2 mission was India’s second lunar exploration mission. It consisted of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. The lander, named Vikram, was scheduled to soft-land on the lunar surface on September 7, 2019. However, the lander lost contact with the ground station just 2.1 kilometers above the lunar surface. The ISRO later confirmed that the lander had crashed.
The failure of the Chandrayaan 2 lander was a major setback for the Indian space program. However, it also provided an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and improve the design and development of future missions.
There are four main reasons that led to the crash of the Vikram lander:
- The lander’s attitude control system failed. The attitude control system is responsible for keeping the lander stable in its orientation. When the attitude control system failed, the lander began to tumble out of control.
- The lander’s propulsion system failed. The propulsion system is responsible for slowing the lander down and landing it safely on the lunar surface. When the propulsion system failed, the lander was unable to slow down enough and crashed into the lunar surface.
- The lander’s software was not able to handle the unexpected changes in the lander’s trajectory. The lander was supposed to land on a smooth plain, but it encountered a number of unexpected obstacles, such as boulders and craters. The software was not able to adjust the lander’s trajectory quickly enough to avoid these obstacles, and the lander crashed into the lunar surface.
- The software was not robust enough to handle the high levels of noise and interference that are present in the lunar environment. The software was designed to work in a vacuum, but the lunar surface is actually quite dusty. This dust can interfere with the software’s ability to communicate with the ground station and to control the lander.
The ISRO has learned a number of lessons from the Chandrayaan 2 mission. These lessons will be used to improve the design and development of future missions. The ISRO is also planning to improve the flight software for future missions. This will include making the software more robust and fault tolerant.
How is Chandrayaan 3’s flight software more robust?
The ISRO has made a number of changes to the flight software for Chandrayaan 3 in order to address the issues that led to the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 lander. These changes include:
- More rigorous testing and validation: The flight software for Chandrayaan 3 has been extensively tested in a variety of simulated environments. This includes testing the software in response to unexpected changes in the lander’s trajectory.
- More fault-tolerant design: The flight software for Chandrayaan 3 has been designed to be more fault-tolerant. This means that the software can continue to operate even if some components fail.
- More human oversight: The flight software for Chandrayaan 3 will be monitored by human operators throughout the landing process. This will help to ensure that the software is operating correctly and that any unexpected problems are identified and addressed quickly.
In addition to the changes to the flight software, the ISRO has also made a number of changes to the design of the Chandrayaan 3 lander. These changes include:
- A larger landing area: The Chandrayaan 3 lander will have a larger landing area than the Chandrayaan 2 lander. This will give the lander more room to maneuver and reduce the risk of a crash.
- More powerful engines: The Chandrayaan 3 lander will have more powerful engines than the Chandrayaan 2 lander. This will give the lander more control over its descent and landing.
- A stronger landing gear: The Chandrayaan 3 lander will have a stronger landing gear than the Chandrayaan 2 lander. This will help to protect the lander from damage during the landing.
The ISRO is confident that the changes to the flight software and the design of the Chandrayaan 3 lander will help to prevent a repeat of the Chandrayaan 2 failure.
Let’s hope for the best with the landing of Chandrayaan 3…