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Instruments onboard Chandrayaan-3 undergoing tests, readying for launch later this year: Former ISRO chief

🔴 On the successful completion of over two years by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, AS Kiran Kumar said that there was enough fuel required to continue operations and that the satellite is functioning well.

He was speaking on 'ISRO Exploration Missions' during the 'Space Radiation Workshop' organised virtually by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune and NASA. (File)

Former ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said that all instruments and payloads to be mounted on the Vikram lander are undergoing final experiments and testing. The lander will be an important part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, whose launch is planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) later this year.

He was speaking on ‘ISRO Exploration Missions’ during the ‘Space Radiation Workshop’ organised virtually by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune and NASA. The workshop, organised as part of India’s 75 years of Independence, will conclude on Friday.

The orbiter part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission was successfully inserted into the orbit in August 2019 but the soft-landing of the Vikram lander carrying the Pragyan rover failed. The third moon mission will make another attempt to land Vikram on the lunar surface.

“The unsuccessful attempt of the Vikram lander is being taken care of and in the Chandrayaan-3 mission, the lander and rover will be carried on a propulsion module. All payloads for tracking the lunar activity, the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and the ChaSTE — the lone instrument to touch the lunar surface to perform thermal measurements of lunar high-latitude regions — and others are being integrated with the rover. These are getting ready for tests and launch later this year,” said Kiran Kumar, who is currently the chairman of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) Council and a member of the Apex Science Board of the ISRO.

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On the successful completion of over two years by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, the former ISRO chief said that there was enough fuel required to continue operations and that the satellite is functioning well. “The mission is expected to carry on for many more years,” he said.

In the future, there will be attempts to reposition the satellite to be able to go to a lower orbit and collect more data post Chandrayaan-3, which will provide a backup relay system for Chandrayaan-2, he informed.

Hailing the science that has emerged from Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and AstroSat missions of the ISRO, Kiran Kumar said that researchers from over 50 countries have used data generated by each of these missions.

Similar to Chandrayaan-3, the final testing of the instruments onboard the solar mission, named Aditya L-1, is under progress. This will be India’s maiden mission to the Sun and is scheduled for a lunch this year.

The third mission XPoSat, also gearing up for a 2022 launch, will be a dedicated satellite for measuring polarization in X-rays. The two payloads part of this mission are Polarimeter Instrument (POLIX) and X-Ray Spectrometer (XSPECT).

Giving glimpses into the space agency’s future missions, Kiran Kumar talked about Disturbed and quiet time Ionosphere-thermosphere System at High Altitude (DISHA) and the mission to planet Venus. DISHA — a twin aeronomy mission with six payloads — will study the relevance of space weather and its effects on the terrestrial upper atmosphere.

“Both DISHA and the mission to Venus are presently in their final stages of discussions and approval,” he said.

The ISRO is also in talks for collaboration with its Japanese counterpart, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the mission could also see contributions from NASA. This mission shall have a 350kg rover with instruments to perform in-situ (at source) samples and perform analysis near the moon’s south pole.

“In another two years from now, the ISRO plans to collaborate with JAXA for a six-month Lunar Polar Exploration mission with an expected launch in 2024 or 2025.”

On career opportunities for working with the ISRO, Kiran Kumar said that the young students can work for the ISRO through the scientific institutions collaborating with the space agency.

“The field of Space Sciences is growing significantly and becoming important in the country,” he said.

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