Breaking: Chandrayaan-3’s Heart-Pounding 20 Minutes on Moon’s Edge – A Thrilling Lunar Saga Unveiled!

A monumental moment in space exploration is on the horizon, as the spotlight turns towards the Vikram lander scheduled for a soft landing attempt on the moon’s surface. India’s Chandrayaan-3 is poised to etch its name in history by orchestrating a flawless touchdown with the Pragyaan rover nestled within the Vikram Lander. The final twenty minutes of this awe-inspiring journey are being likened to the nail-biting tension of a T-20 cricket match’s tight finish.

Chandrayaan-3’s Remarkable Voyage and Landing Strategy

Initiated by a magnificent lift-off, ISRO’s powerful Mark-3 launch vehicle propelled Chandrayaan-3 into its designated orbit. This marked the beginning of an elliptical trajectory around Earth, enabling the spacecraft to gather the necessary momentum.

On August 1, Chandrayaan-3 embarked on its 384,000-kilometer journey towards the moon. By August 5, the spacecraft seamlessly nestled itself within the moon’s orbit, a feat that necessitated careful stabilization within the lunar realm.

In a pivotal maneuver on August 17, the propulsion module separated from the Vikram lander carrying the Pragyaan rover. This intricate move was executed with precision when the satellite found itself in a 153 km by 163 km orbit. While the propulsion module continued its lunar circumnavigation, the Vikram lander entered an elliptical orbit of 134 km by 25 km, preparing for the final descent.

The Heart-Stopping Descent

On the day of landing, the dramatic twenty minutes of suspenseful descent unfold. Guided by commands from Bengaluru, the Vikram lander initiates its descent from an altitude of 25 km, marking the onset of this intense phase.

During the powered descent, the Vikram lander hurtles towards the moon’s surface at an astounding velocity of 1.68 km per second, equivalent to approximately 6048 km per hour – a speed nearly ten times that of a commercial airplane.

As the lander draws nearer, its engines engage in a controlled slowdown, entering the rough braking phase, which spans approximately 11 minutes. Throughout this phase, the lander maintains a nearly horizontal orientation in relation to the lunar surface.

Subsequent maneuvers facilitate the Vikram lander’s shift to a vertical position, marking the commencement of the ‘fine braking phase’. This delicate maneuver holds critical significance, as a similar phase during the Chandrayaan-2 mission witnessed an unfortunate loss of control.

At an altitude of 800 meters above the lunar terrain, both horizontal and vertical velocities are brought to a standstill, allowing the Vikram lander to hover and meticulously survey the designated landing site.

A Gentle Touchdown and Beyond

Continuing its descent, the lander hovers at 150 meters, capturing images for hazard detection and identifying the optimal landing site.

As the Vikram lander gently makes contact with the lunar surface, its engines gradually deactivate, marking the culmination of the intense twenty minutes of suspense.

Amidst the suspenseful sequence, a poignant moment unfolds as the Vikram lander and the Pragyaan rover exchange images, transmitting India’s maiden lunar selfies back to Earth.

Poised for scientific exploration, both the Vikram lander and the rover are powered by solar energy, engineered to endure the lunar day which spans 14 Earth days.

In this high-stakes endeavor, India aims to join the esteemed ranks of nations achieving a soft landing on the moon – a milestone representing human innovation, ambition, and unwavering dedication to exploration. The journey towards the moon’s surface, shrouded in anticipation, serves as a testament to India’s prowess and aspiration in the realm of space exploration.

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