• Chandrayaan, a series of Indian lunar space probes
  • Chandrayaan-1, the first lunar space probe of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), found water on the Moon. It mapped the Moon in infrared, visible, and X-ray light from lunar orbit and used reflected radiation to prospect for various elements, minerals, and ice. It operated in 2008–09.
  • Chandrayaan-2, which launched in 2019, was designed to be ISRO’s first lunar lander.
  • Chandrayaan-3 was ISRO’s first lunar lander and touched down in the Moon’s south polar region in 2023.

Chandrayaan 1

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the moon, was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2008.

Key Points


  • Data from the Mineralogy Mapper (M3), one of the instruments on Chandrayaan-1, indicates the presence of hematite at the lunar poles.
  • Hematite (Fe2O3) is a mineral that is a form of iron oxide, or rust, produced when iron is exposed to oxygen and water.
  • The sign of this finding is that even though the surface of the moon is known to have iron-rich rocks, it is not known for the presence of water and oxygen, which are the two elements needed to interact with iron to create rust.
  • Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has found evidence of greater quantities of metals such as iron and titanium on the moon’s subsurface.

Possible Reasons Behind Rusting along the Lunar Poles:

  • As per scientists at NASA, the earth’s oxygen could be driving the formation of hematite. Earth’s magnetotail (elongated region of the magnetosphere of the earth) ferries oxygen to the moon and also blocks 99% of the solar wind during certain periods of the moon’s orbit.
  • The solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows out from the sun, bombards Earth and the moon with hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen makes it harder for hematite to form. It is a reducer, meaning it adds electrons to the materials it interacts with. That’s the opposite of what is needed to make hematite or iron rust, which requires an oxidizer, which removes electrons.
  • Chandrayaan-1 Moon data indicates that the moon’s poles are home to water that scientists are trying to decipher.


Design and Mission Profile

  • Chandrayaan-2 was an integrated 3-in-1 spacecraft of around 3,877 kg comprising an Orbiter of the Moon, Vikram (after Vikram Sarabhai) the lander, and Pragyan (wisdom) the rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
  • The Orbiter orbited from 100 km away, while the Lander and Rover modules separated and made a soft landing on the surface.
  • Lander (Vikram)  remained stationary after touching down, mainly studying the moon’s atmosphere. It will also look out for seismic activity.
  • Rover (Pragyan): Once on the Moon, the Rover, a six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle, detached itself and slowly crawled on the surface, making observations and collecting data.
    It studied the composition of the surface near the lunar landing site and determined the abundance of various elements.
  • Orbiter: While the Lander and Rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day), the Orbiter, a 2,379-kg spacecraft with seven instruments on board, would remain in orbit for a year.
    • It was equipped with different kinds of cameras to create high-resolution threedimensional maps of the surface.
    • It studied the mineral composition of the moon and the lunar atmosphere and also assessed the abundance of water.
  • The mission sequence involves meticulous planning of a series of Earthbound maneuvers, trans-lunar injections, a series of lunar burns, lander separation, lander descent, and a touchdown and subsequent rover rolling out of the lander on the Moon surface

Mission Objectives

  • Try and build on the evidence of water molecules shown by Chandrayaan-I and study the extent and distribution of water on the Moon
  • Study topography, seismography, composition of lunar surface and the lunar atmosphere
    • The study of ancient rocks and craters can offer indications of origin and evolution of the Moon.
    • The South Pole region of the Moon also contains clues to the fossil records of early solar system. Thus, it will improve our understanding of the early solar system as well.
  • Map the lunar surface and prepare 3D maps of it.



  • Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar mission and second attempt at achieving a soft landing on the moon’s surface.
  • Chandrayaan-3  took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The spacecraft seamlessly entered lunar orbit on August 5, 2023. The historic moment unfolded when the lander made a successful touchdown near the Lunar south pole on Aug 23, 2023.

Mission Objectives

  • To demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on Lunar Surface
  • To demonstrate Rover roving on the moon and
  • To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.


  • Chandrayaan-3 is a three-component mission consisting of a Propulsion Module, a Lander Module, and a Rover Module.
  • The Propulsion Module : It will carry the lander and rover configuration till 100 km lunar orbit.This propulsion module has Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload to study the spectral and Polari metric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit.
  • The Lander Module: The Lander Module (Vikram) is carrying a scientific payload that includes a suite of instruments to study the lunar surface and atmosphere Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature; Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) for measuring the seismicity around the landing site; Langmuir Probe (LP) to estimate the plasma density and its variations. A passive Laser Retroreflector Array from NASA is accommodated for lunar laser ranging studies.
  • The Rover Module:The Rover Module(Pragyan) is carrying a suite of instruments to study the lunar surface and subsurface which includes Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) for deriving the elemental composition in the vicinity of landing site.

Major Findings 

  • Lunar Surface Temperature Surprise:Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) measured temperatures reaching 70 degrees Celsius, surprising scientists who expected temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
  • Lunar Surface Elements Confirmed:The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument onboard ‘Pragyan’ rover confirmed the presence of Sulphur on the lunar surface near the south pole.Elements such as Aluminum, Calcium, Iron, Chromium, Titanium, Manganese, Silicon, and Oxygen were also detected.

Chandrayaan-3 Significance

Leadership in Space Technology

  • It joins the elite group of nations—Russia, the US, and China—with demonstrated lunar soft landing capability
  • India’s indigenous cryogenic engines and efforts to declutter the orbit showcase its leadership in space technology.
  • Positioning India as a global hub in the New Space economy

Strategic Significance of Soft Landing

Soft landing capability demonstrated by Chandrayaan-3 holds strategic importance for India with applications extending to Standard Refuelling and Docking technology and Smart Space Robot technology, enabling interplanetary science missions and sample retrieval.

Investigates Lunar Properties

  • Chandrayaan-3 carries seven science payloads across its modules. Propulsion module studies earth’s atmosphere, lander module investigates lunar surface properties, and rover module analyzes lunar rocks and soil
  • Confirming the presence of water ice, validating .lunar molten history, and detecting subsurface water ice are its  key achievements.

Insights for Defense and Aerospace:

  • Soft landing capability contributes valuable insights to India’s missile defense program.
  • Reusable launch vehicle technology derived from the mission aids in cost reduction for future launches

Strategic Tools and Products:

  • Chandrayaan-3’s technologies translate into strategic tools and commercial products.
  • Autonomous rovers, developed from rover module technology, find applications in disaster management and infrastructure monitoring.

Space Tourism and Economic Activities:

  • Increasing interest in space tourism may lead to private space parks.
  • Convergence with smart space robots can create in-orbit manufacturing hubs, fostering economic activities
  • Over 500 space-tech startups, MSMEs, and industries fuel the NewSpace movement in India.

Related Links:

International Space StationMangalyaan Mission
ISROGaganyaan Mission