-Top News Asia News Science

Japan Makes Historic Moon Landing But Suffers Hiccup

The spacecraft’s solar cell is not generating electricity. Currently, the lander is operating on limited battery power, only expected to last several hours, reports Asian Lite News

Japan created history by becoming only the fifth nation to successfully complete the soft landing on the moon with its ‘Moon Sniper’ robotic explorer, but fear looms that the mission may end prematurely since the spacecraft’s solar cell is not generating electricity, CNN reported, citing the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The agency said it is currently receiving a signal from the lander, which is communicating as expected.

The uncrewed Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, mission landed just after 10:20 am ET Friday (12:20 am local time), according to telemetry data shared on JAXA’s live broadcast.

Currently, the lander is operating on limited battery power, only expected to last several hours, and the JAXA team is analyzing the data to determine the cause of the solar cell issue and the next steps for the lander. The solar cell issue may be because the spacecraft is not pointing in the intended direction, JAXA officials said.

According to CNN, there is still hope that as the solar angle changes on the moon, the solar cell may be able to charge again, but that may take some time and will depend on whether SLIM can survive the frigid lunar night, the team shared during a news conference.

The agency believes the mission has met the criteria to declare it a “minimum success,” because the spacecraft achieved a precise and soft lunar landing using optical navigation. The landing makes Japan the third country to land on the moon this century, and the fifth overall.

When asked to score the landing operation for SLIM, JAXA director general Dr. Hitoshi Kuninaka gave it a “60 out of 100,” while also mentioning that he is known for making “harsh comments.”

The team is also working to gather all of the scientific data obtained by the lander.

The lander was able to release its two lunar rovers, LEV-1 and LEV-2. The LEV-1 rover moves using a hopping mechanism and is equipped with wide-angle visible light cameras, scientific equipment and antennas that allow it to communicate with Earth, CNN reported. The LEV-2 also outfitted with cameras, can change shape to move across the lunar surface.

Meanwhile, the team is receiving a signal from LEV-1 and will see if its cameras were able to capture any images, and they will not definitively confirm the status of LEV-2 until more data is received.

The small-scale SLIM robotic explorer, which launched in September, goes by the nickname “Moon Sniper” because it carried new precision technology to demonstrate a “pinpoint” landing.

Previous lunar missions have been able to target and reach specific zones that spanned many kilometres, but the SLIM lander targeted a landing site that stretches just 100 meters (328 feet) across. The lander’s “smart eyes” — an image-matching-based navigation technology — rapidly photographed the lunar surface on approach and autonomously made adjustments as the spacecraft descended to touchdown on a sloped surface, as reported by CNN.

The JAXA team is still working to determine the accuracy of SLIM’s landing, which could take up to a month. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘US to Include Int’l Astronaut on NASA’s Artemis Moon Mission by 2030’

-Top News India News Science

Modi Meets And Greets ISRO Scientists

PM Narendra Modi meets scientists behind successful lunar landing, hugs ISRO chief Somanath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that August 23 will be celebrated as National Space Day to mark Chandrayaan-3’s landing on the Moon.

PM Modi also announced that the touchdown spot of the Vikram lander on the lunar surface would from now onwards be known as the ‘Shivshakti’ point while the Chandrayaan-2 Lunar landing point will be called the ‘Tiranga’ point.

“This will be an inspiration for every effort made by India. it will remind us any failure is not final…,” PM Modi said.

A visibly emotional Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed scientists at the Indian Space Research organisation’s command centre in Bengaluru, who were involved in the Chandrayaan-3 mission and lauded them for their efforts.

“On August 23rd, India hoisted the flag on the Moon. From now onwards, that day will be known as National Space Day in India”, said PM Modi

“Today, I am very feeling a new kind of happiness among you,” a beaming PM added.

“Such kind of happiness… these are very rare occasions when the whole body and soul is drenched in happiness,” PM Modi said while addressing the scientists at ISRO’s Telemetry Tracking and Command Network Mission Control Complex in Bengaluru.

He said the scientists had taken the Make In India initiative to the Moon, referring to the boost to indigenous productions due to Chandrayaan 3’s success.

PM Modi said he was on a two-nation visit to South Africa and Greece but his mind was completely with the scientists.

He said that he wanted to salute the scientists as soon as possible. “I could not stop myself as I was not in the country, but I decided to visit Bengaluru first and meet our scientists right after visiting India,” he said as the scientists cheered and broke into applause.

“…I can see before my eyes every second of that day of August 23…” PM Modi said recalling the final 15 challenging minutes of the Chandrayaan-3.

“I salute your dedication. I salute your patience. I salute your hard work. I salute your inspiration,” said PM Modi as he turned emotional.

The prime minister was accorded a warm reception as he arrived at the ISRO headquarters this morning. He met the team of scientists involved in the country’s third lunar mission — Chandrayaan-3 and enveloped ISRO chief Somanath in a hug.

Locals with posters and the national flag had gathered on the streets outside the airport in to welcome PM Narendra Modi. Upon landing at the HAL airport in Bengaluru, he greeted people gathered and raised the slogan ‘Jai Vigyan Jai Anusandhan’ outside the airport.

India entered record books as the first country to successfully place a lander on the unexplored lunar South Pole on Wednesday evening. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Top Leaders Celebrate India’s Lunar Success

-Top News India News World

India’s Giant Leap: Chandrayaan-3 Lands On Moon

“India is on the moon!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is currently attending the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg said

It was a giant leap for India on Wednesday evening as the Chandrayaan-3 lander module successfully landed on the moon’s South Pole, making it the first country to have achieved the historic feat and bringing to an end the disappointment over the crash landing of the Chandrayaan-2, four years ago.

Officials at India’s space agency ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru broke into applause after the Vikram began its powered vertical descent towards its landing site.

“India is on the moon!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is currently attending the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg said. He watched the live telecast and as soon as the touchdown happened he sported a big smile and waved the tricolour.

The countdown of the Vikram hovered at 150 metres, then 130 metres, 50 metres and decelerated as approached the moon’s service before finally touching down on the lunar surface. 

As the Vikram lander carrying the Pragyaan rover in its belly touched down on the lunar surface, it marked a giant leap in India’s spacefaring journey providing a well-deserved finale to ISRO’s long years of toil.

This makes India becomes the fourth country – after US, China, and Russia – to have successfully landed on the moon’s surface, it has earned a place in record books as the first to touchdown on the south side of Earth’s only natural satellite.

Billions of people across India and globally closely monitoring the much-awaited event. More so after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on Sunday after spinning out of control.

In the run-up to the scheduled soft landing of Chandrayaan-3, people across the country prayed to God in all denominations of places of worship for a successful mission.

Special screenings of the soft landing were organized across the country, including schools and science centers, and public institutions. ISRO made the live actions available on the ISRO website, its YouTube channel, Facebook, and public broadcaster DD National TV.

The scheduled timing for the soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the moon’s south pole on August 23, 2023 (Wednesday), was 18:04 IST, with the powered descent of Vikram lander at 1745 IST.

ISRO had been releasing a series of up-close images of the moon, assisting the lander module in determining its position (latitude and longitude) by matching them against an onboard moon reference map.

Historically, spacecraft missions to the Moon have primarily targeted the equatorial region due to its favourable terrain and operating conditions. However, the lunar south pole presents a vastly different and more challenging terrain compared to the equatorial region.

The spacecraft was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on July 14.

A GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle was used for the launch of the spacecraft that was placed in the lunar orbit on August 5 and since then it was through a series of orbital manoeuvres been lowered closer to the moon’s surface.

Ever since the July 14 launch, ISRO had been maintaining that the health of the spacecraft remained “normal”.

On August 5, Chandrayaan-3 was successfully inserted into the lunar orbit with multiple key manoeuvres thereafter.

Then on August 17, the mission marked another giant leap in its lunar quest as the ‘Vikram’ lander module of the spacecraft successfully separated from the propulsion module on Thursday. The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander is named after Vikram Sarabhai (1919–1971), who is widely regarded as the father of the Indian space programme.

Then the deboosting of the Lander module was undertaken in two phases. Deboosting is the process of slowing down to position itself in an orbit where the orbit’s closest point to the Moon is.

The stated objectives of Chandrayaan-3, India’s third lunar mission, were safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, the rover moving on the moon’s surface, and in-situ scientific experiments.

Upon landing, the lander and the rover were to operate for one lunar day. One day on the Moon is equal to 14 days on Earth.

Chandrayaan-3’s development phase commenced in January 2020, with the launch planned sometime in 2021.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic brought an unforeseen delay to the mission’s progress. The approved cost of Chandrayaan-3 is Rs 250 crores (excluding launch vehicle cost).

Chandrayaan-2 mission was only “partially successful” since the lander lost contact after a hard landing, but the ISRO earlier this week successfully established two-way communication between the Chandrayaan-3 lander module and the still orbiting Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) founder Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of the Indian space program, once said India must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems facing society.

The establishment of the ISRO was one of Vikram Sarabhai’s greatest achievements. He successfully convinced the government of the day of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India. (ANI)