16 Aug Russia’s Luna 25
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Russia’s Luna 25”. The topic “Russia’s Luna 25” has relevance in the “Science and Technology” section of the UPSC CSE exam.
What is Russia’s Luna 25?
What is Chandrayaan?
GS3: Awareness in Space Technology
Why in the news?
Luna 25, the Russian lander is anticipated to achieve a landing near the lunar South Pole a few days prior to India, potentially snatching the distinction of being the first country to achieve a soft landing in proximity to the South Pole of the moon.
Luna 25 Mission Overview:
- Luna 25, alternatively referred to as Luna-Glob-Lander, stands as a Russian lunar lander mission that was successfully initiated on August 10, 2023. This mission marks the first Russian lunar lander endeavor since the Luna 24 mission in 1976.
- The mission is aimed at the Moon’s south polar region.
- The Luna 25 mission was launched using a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. The lander has a mass of 800 kg.
Primary Scientific Objectives:
- Studying the composition of the polar regolith (surface layer)
- Investigating the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere (thin atmosphere).
- The lander consists of a four-legged base housing landing rockets and propellant tanks. An upper compartment contains solar panels, communication gear, on-board computers, radiothermal heaters, radiators, and scientific instruments.
- It weighs around 800 kg when dry and carries about 950 kg of propellant at launch. The lander is equipped with a 1.6 meter-long Lunar Robotic Arm (LRA) designed to collect surface regolith samples to depths of 20 to 30 cm.
The Luna program:
- The Luna program is a sequence of robotic space missions dispatched to the Moon by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia from 1959 to 2023.
- Out of these missions, fifteen achieved success, with each being specifically crafted as an orbiter or lander, marking significant milestones in space exploration.
- These missions undertook various experiments, delving into the Moon’s chemical composition, gravitational forces, temperature variations, and radiation levels.
- On August 9, 1976, the last mission of the Luna series, known as Luna 24, was launched. This mission had the specific purpose of returning lunar samples to Earth.
Comparison between the Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 missions:
Reasons for Russia Reaching the Moon Earlier:
- Direct Trajectory: Luna-25’s lighter payload allowed it to follow a more direct trajectory towards the moon, reducing travel time.
- Less Fuel Consumption: With a lighter payload, Luna-25 had more fuel storage available, enabling a faster journey.
- Lunar Dawn Timing: Luna-25’s landing site experienced an earlier lunar dawn, giving its solar-powered payloads a full 14 Earth days of operation.
Differences in Mission Design:
- Payloads: Luna-25 focuses on studying soil composition, dust particles, and surface water detection, while Chandrayaan-3 aims to study lunar soil, water-ice presence, thermal properties, seismic activity, and chemical composition.
- Rover: Chandrayaan-3 includes a rover capable of movement, providing mobility and versatility in exploration.
- Mission Duration: Luna-25 is designed to work for about a year, aided by a heating mechanism and alternative power source. Chandrayaan-3 is built for a single lunar day due to lack of heating mechanism.
- Power Source: Luna-25 has additional power sources besides solar panels, ensuring consistent operation even during the lunar night. Chandrayaan-3 relies solely on solar panels.
- Lunar Day Length: Luna-25’s landing site has a shorter lunar day length, but its power sources allow continuous operation.
India Russia Space Cooperation:
- India and Russia have a history of collaboration in moon missions and other space endeavors.
- Initially, Russia was set to design the lander-rover for India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission. However, this collaboration faced a setback when Russia’s Fobos Grunt mission to one of Mars’ moons encountered failure.
- Consequently, India decided to independently develop the lander-rover, which led to an 11-year gap between the Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2 missions.
- Moreover, India’s journey to space has also been influenced by Russian contributions. The predecessors of the LVM3 rocket, which launched Chandrayaan-3, were based on cryogenic engines acquired from Russia.
- While Russia did not transfer the technology, India eventually developed this capability on its own.
- The partnership between India and Russia in space activities continues to evolve, reflecting the commitment of both nations to exploring the cosmos and pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding. This collaboration is a testament to the enduring spirit of international cooperation in the pursuit of space exploration.
Q1. With reference to Luna 25, consider the following statements:
- The mission was launched by means of a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle.
- The Luna 25’s mission is focused on the Moon’s north polar region.
- The mission was launched making it the first Russian lunar lander mission since Luna 24 in 1976.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
Q2. Consider the following :
- Luna-25’s lighter load when compared to Chandrayaan-3 allowed it to take a more direct route to the moon, shortening the journey.
- Luna-25 is designed to work for about a single lunar day, due to lack of heating mechanism and alternative power source. Chandrayaan-3 is built for 14 Earth days aided by a heating mechanism.
- Chandrayaan-3 has a rover that can move around, which gives it the mobility and versatility to explore in ways that Luna-25 cannot.
How many of the abovementioned statements are correct ?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
Q3. Compare and contrast the trajectories, payloads, and mission durations of Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 moon missions. How do these differences influence their respective capabilities and scientific goals?