Watch: How the Chandrayaan-3 rover ramped down from lander for its moonwalk
Chandrayaan-3is India’s third lunar mission and the second that attempted to soft-land on Moon after Chandrayaan-2 had failed to do so in 2019.More than a decade before that, Isro had launched Chandrayaan-1 in 2008.
Pragyan, which rolled out early Thursday morning, had begun to rove later in the day. It’s payloads are expected to be turned on later today (Friday).
Late on Thursday, a day after the successful soft-landing on the Moon, three of the payloads on Vikram were turned on.
“All activities are on schedule and all systems are normal,” Isro had said, adding that three of the lander payloads, Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) and Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE), were turned on.
The space agency had already turned on the Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload on the propulsion module on Sunday.
Isro chairman S Somanath confirmed to TOI that the rover had begun to move on Thursday after its batteries were charged. The rover’s movement will be restricted to be within the observational area. Both Vikram and Pragyan are designed to function for one lunar day (14 Earth days).
On why the rover took more than four hours to roll out, Isro chairman S Somanath told TOI: “After the nominal landing, there were a lot of things we had to check, including inclination, terrain condition, temperatures and wait for the lunar dust to settle before the rover could be brought out. Once all these checks were done, the ramp deployment was completed and the rover came out late last night.”
He said that the process of turning on the payloads on the rover would commence late on Thursday and they should be on by Friday, when other payloads on the lander also get turned on.
65+TB Lunar Data
Once all payloads on Vikram and Pragyan begin working, India’s lunar data repository will get richer. India now has 15 scientific instruments studying a variety of things on the Moon, the Sun from the Moon, and also the Earth. Of the 15 instruments, 8 are from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which has been around the Moon since 2019.
In fact, India has already received more than 65 terabytes (TB) of data from the orbiter — 1TB, for instance, can hold approximately 500 hours of movies!
Most of this data, about 60TB, has come from the four major instruments developed by Space Applications Centre (SAC): the Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC), Imaging InfraRed Spectrometer (IIRS), Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC) and Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar (DFSAR).
SAC director Nilesh M Desai, told TOI: “Placed in its intended orbit around the Moon in August 2019, the orbiter continues to enrich our understanding of the Moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments, four of which were built by us.”
About 4.5TB of data has come from Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM), which detects X-rays emitted by the Sun and its corona. This was developed by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL). Anil Bharadwaj, director, PRL, said: “The XSM has done some path-breaking observations which supports another instrument on the orbiter called CLASS (Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer) developed by UR Rao Satellite Centre, which studies the X-rays coming from the Sun and how they get scattered by the elements from lunar surface.”
Initially, Chandrayaan-2 datasets were kept in a nine-month lock-in period for calibration and peer review purposes. Post that, it has resulted in multiple scientific papers from across the world.