From Chandrayaan-1 to Chandrayaan-3: India's Progress in Lunar Exploration

From Chandrayaan-1 to Chandrayaan-3: India's Progress in Lunar Exploration

The Chandrayaan program, initiated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), represents India's ambitious endeavor in the field of lunar exploration. Launched in 2008, this space mission has marked significant milestones, contributing to our understanding of the Moon's geology, mineralogy, and lunar water presence. With the Chandrayaan program, India has established itself as a prominent player in the global space community, showcasing its technological capabilities and commitment to scientific exploration. This article explores the various missions under the Chandrayaan program, their objectives, achievements, and the program's impact on India's space ambitions.

Chandrayaan Program: India's Quest for Lunar Exploration

With missions like Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2, India has made significant strides in unraveling the mysteries of the Moon. From confirming the presence of water molecules on the lunar surface to mapping its topography and studying its mineral composition, the Chandrayaan Program has contributed immensely to our understanding of the Moon's geology.

1. Chandrayaan-1 Mission:

The Chandrayaan-1 mission, launched on October 22, 2008, aimed to orbit the Moon and conduct comprehensive studies of its surface. Equipped with advanced instruments such as the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), the mission made significant discoveries, including the confirmation of water molecules on the lunar surface. This revelation not only provided valuable insights into the Moon's geological history but also opened up possibilities for future lunar resource utilization. Chandrayaan-1 also mapped the Moon's topography, identified various minerals, and studied the presence of helium-3 isotopes, which hold potential as a clean and efficient fuel source.

2. Chandrayaan-2 Mission:

Building on the success of Chandrayaan-1, the Chandrayaan-2 mission, launched on July 22, 2019, aimed to land a rover on the Moon's surface and further explore its uncharted regions, particularly the South Polar region. The mission consisted of an orbiter, a lander named Vikram, and a rover called Pragyan. While the lander faced an unfortunate communication failure and a hard landing, the orbiter continued to operate successfully, capturing high-resolution images and conducting scientific experiments.

Chandrayaan-2's primary objectives were to study the lunar terrain, analyze the distribution of lunar water, and study the presence of helium-3 and other elements. The mission's instruments, including the Terrain Mapping Camera-2, the Orbiter High-Resolution Camera, and the Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer, facilitated comprehensive lunar exploration. Despite the challenges faced during the landing phase, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was hailed as a significant achievement for India's space program, showcasing the nation's capability to undertake complex space missions.

Chandrayaan-3 mission signifies India's unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and expanding our understanding of the Moon's enigmatic realm.

3. Chandrayaan-3 Mission:

Chandrayaan-3, India's much-anticipated third lunar exploration mission, successfully commenced its journey on July 14, 2023, at 2:35 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This mission marks a significant milestone for India, positioning it as the fourth nation capable of achieving a controlled landing of its spacecraft on the lunar surface and showcasing the country's prowess in executing safe and precise lunar landings.

The spacecraft embarked on its celestial odyssey atop the GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle, ensuring a robust and reliable launch capability for the mission. The voyage from Earth to the Moon is estimated to span approximately one month, with the anticipated landing slated for August 23, 2023. Once safely nestled on the lunar terrain, the spacecraft is set to operate for one lunar day, which equates to roughly 14 Earth days—a period during which it will carry out a multitude of scientific experiments and investigations.

Unlocking the Secrets of Chandrayaan 3 Spacecraft:

  • Chandrayaan 3 sets a new course with its intriguing design, featuring a rover and lander without the inclusion of orbiters like its predecessor, Chandrayaan 2.
  • India's mission aims to illuminate the lunar surface, particularly in regions untouched by sunlight for billions of years, holding potential reserves of ice and valuable minerals as suggested by scientists and astronomers.
  • In addition to surface exploration, Chandrayaan 3 will delve into the exosphere, subsurface, and lunar depths, broadening our understanding of the Moon's hidden realms.
  • Leveraging the capabilities of its salvaged orbiter from Chandrayaan 2, the spacecraft's rover will establish crucial communication channels with Earth, ensuring uninterrupted data transmission.
  • Positioned at a distance of 100 km from the lunar orbit, Chandrayaan 3 will capture captivating images, enabling detailed analysis and examination of the lunar terrain.
  • Empowered by four throttle-able engines, ISRO's Chandrayaan 3 lander exhibits enhanced maneuverability, while its integration with a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) adds advanced measurement capabilities to its repertoire.

Updates in Chandrayaan-3 Mission:

  • S Somanath, the Chairperson of ISRO, recently highlighted that the modifications in the current mission were based on lessons learned from past failures. Rather than designing Chandrayaan-3 based on previous successes, the focus has shifted to anticipating potential failures and devising strategies to address them effectively. 
  • In Chandrayaan-2, the lander and rover experienced a crash landing on the Moon instead of a gentle touchdown. Somanath explained that the primary issue was related to the lander's five engines, which generated slightly higher thrust than anticipated. The lander needed to maintain stability while capturing images to identify the landing site, but errors accumulated during this critical period. 
  • During course corrections, the spacecraft faced challenges due to limitations in its software, which restricted its ability to make rapid turns. Additionally, the spacecraft had conflicting requirements: reducing its descending velocity while accelerating forward to reach the intended landing site. As a result, the lander made contact with the lunar surface at a higher velocity than planned. 
  • To address these concerns, the lander of Chandrayaan-3 will no longer rely solely on images taken during descent to determine the landing site. High-resolution images from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter have been incorporated into the lander's system, which will capture images primarily to verify its precise location. 
  • Structural modifications have also been implemented in the lander. The central thruster has been removed, reducing the total number of thrusters from five to four. The legs of the lander have been reinforced to ensure a successful landing, even at higher velocities. Furthermore, additional solar panels have been installed on the lander's body to enhance power generation capabilities.

These strategic adjustments in Chandrayaan-3 demonstrate ISRO's proactive approach to addressing previous challenges and increasing the mission's chances of success. By incorporating valuable insights from Chandrayaan-2 and implementing necessary improvements, India's lunar exploration program is poised to achieve significant advancements in its quest to unlock the Moon's secrets.


This mission signifies India's unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and expanding our understanding of the Moon's enigmatic realm. As Chandrayaan-3 embarks on its remarkable endeavor, the nation eagerly anticipates the wealth of knowledge and groundbreaking discoveries that will be unearthed during its expedition. The successful execution of this mission will solidify India's position as a formidable force in the field of space exploration and pave the way for future ambitious lunar ventures.



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