Chandrayaan-3 latest update: India’s historic space mission sends back first images of Moon ahead of landing

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India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to the lunar South pole has transmitted its first images of the Moon. The spacecraft, carrying a rover and lander, successfully entered lunar orbit on Saturday. The images captured by the spacecraft showcase craters on the Moon, which appear larger as the spacecraft approaches the lunar surface. After approximately 10 days of orbiting Earth, the spacecraft has now started circling the Moon, with the rover and lander set to touch down on 23 August.

The Indian space agency, ISRO, confirmed the successful completion of the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. ISRO stated that the health of the spacecraft was normal following this crucial milestone. This marks the third consecutive time that ISRO has successfully inserted a spacecraft into lunar orbit.

To ensure a safe landing, a series of manoeuvres have been planned for the Chandrayaan-3 mission spacecraft. During one such manoeuvre, the propulsion module will separate from the lander while in orbit. By implementing a series of braking manoeuvres, a soft landing in the lunar South pole region is anticipated.

The mission, named “moon craft” in Sanskrit, was launched from Sriharikota, India’s main spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, on 14 July. The spacecraft is expected to land after a month-long journey.

Throughout the mission, the health of the spacecraft is continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC). The Indian Deep Space Network (IDS) antenna at Byalalu, near Bengaluru, is also providing support along with assistance from ESA and JPL Deep space antenna.

If the soft landing is successful, India will become the first country to achieve this feat close to the lunar South pole and the fourth country overall, following the US, former Soviet Union, and China.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-up mission to ISRO’s previous attempt to land a rover on the lunar surface in 2019. The next step for Chandrayaan-3 is to further reduce the spacecraft’s orbit, planned for 9 August.

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