As India eagerly awaits the landing of its Chandrayaan 3 spacecraft on the moon’s surface, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are playing a vital role in helping the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) track and monitor the spacecraft’s journey.
During the critical phase of the landing of the Chandrayaan 3 lander, propulsion module, and Chandrayaan 2 orbiter on the moon, the mission operations teams from NASA and ESA will provide tracking support.
To put it in perspective, the Vikram lander, the Chandrayaan 3 propulsion module, and the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter are approximately 384,000 kilometers away from Earth in the moon’s orbit. As Earth and the moon are in constant motion, tracking the precise descent of the lander into its designated area becomes a challenging task. This is where the extensive space networks of NASA and ESA come into play. However, it’s important to note that this is not a free service; India pays for this assistance, and the extent of usage and duration depends on the number of antennas utilized.
When the lander is not visible to our antennas, NASA or ESA establishes communication with the lander and provides information to the mission operations team in Bangalore. This communication link acts as a crucial bridge when ISRO’s network can’t directly reach the lander.
It’s worth clarifying that these networks assisting ISRO do not dictate the actions or communications of the lander. Control over these aspects lies with the mission operations team in Bangalore. These external agencies act as communication links only when ISRO’s network cannot directly reach the lander.
The expected time for Chandrayaan 3 to land on the moon’s surface is around 6 AM. Across the country, programs for collective viewing have been organized, and people are offering their prayers for the mission’s success. The recent mishap involving Russia’s Luna-25 lunar mission adds a layer of suspense, particularly after the spacecraft’s unfortunate end on Sunday.