India’s Chandrayaan-3 propulsion module returns to Earth

ISRO

The lunar lander of the Chandrayaan-3 mission is shown on the surface of the moon. The Vikram lander touched down on August 23 after separating from the propulsion module in lunar orbit. Now, the propellant module is orbiting the Earth again, according to the Indian Space Agency.

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The propulsion module that propelled India’s spacecraft to a historic moon landing has returned to Earth orbit, the country’s space agency said. The mission aims to test how a growing space force might one day return samples of lunar soil.

The propellant module had more fuel left than the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, had expected. So, the researchers decided to go ahead with the attempt to bring the block back home. Company said Monday.

And the module is now back in Earth orbit.

Propulsion module – a large box-shaped unit with a solar panel and an engine built into its base – Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lunar lander After the spacecraft launched in mid-July during most of its journey to the moon.

After reaching lunar orbit three weeks later, the lander separated from the propulsion module and touched down on August 23 – making India the fourth country to land a vehicle on the lunar surface. Only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have achieved such a feat before.

The Vikram lander — and the six-wheeled rover Pragyan it uses — carried out all of the mission’s planned science tests before sleeping through the nearly two-week lunar night, a two-week period without reaching sunlight. The surface of the moon.

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Both the lander and the rover are dormant on the moon as previous attempts to wake the vehicles have failed. If the vehicles had reawakened, it would have been an added bonus to the mission, which was deemed a complete success by the Indian Space Agency.

Meanwhile, the propulsion module remained in lunar orbit. This component acted as a relay point, pinging data from the lander to Earth. And the module carried out a single experiment: Spectro-Polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth or Shape.

Chandrayaan Bonus Mission

The SHAPE experiment is designed to observe Earth from lunar orbit, capturing properties of our planet in near-infrared light that are habitable for humans. The study aims to give scientists a blueprint for how to look for similar characteristics — called “biosignatures” — elsewhere in the universe.

The initial plan was to operate the SHAPE experiment for about three months while the propulsion module continued to orbit the moon.

But because the rocket that launched Chandrayaan-3 put it into such a precise orbit, the propulsion module had more thrust than expected.

This “resulted in 100 kg (220 lb) of fuel availability (propellant module or PM) after more than a month of operation in lunar orbit,” the space agency said. “It was decided to use the available fuel in the PM to obtain more information for future lunar missions and to demonstrate mission operation strategies for a sample return mission.”

That means ISRO can use the information gathered since the return of the propulsion module to map out a future lunar landing mission that could return lunar soil samples to Earth.

Similarly, India earlier tested a way to vault the Chandrayaan-3 lander Return from the surface of the Moon After landing. This equates to a short “hop” test, sending the vehicle a few centimeters off the ground. (However, the experiment did not attempt to return to lunar orbit or re-connect with the propulsion module. The maneuvers were intended to test aspects of the vehicle’s design to inform future missions.)

The propulsion module now orbits about 96,000 miles (154,000 kilometers) above Earth, where it will make one lap of the planet every 13 days.

In its statement, the space agency said the trajectory of the propulsion module returning to Earth was “designed to take into account collision avoidance, preventing it from hitting the surface of the Moon or orbiting in the Earth’s geobelt at 36,000 km and below.”

Geo, or geostationary orbit, is a region of space filled with large, expensive satellites that provide television and other communications services to people on Earth.

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