Ex-ISRO Chief Dr G Madhavan Nair Discusses Chandrayaan Missions in Exclusive Interview with NewsX

23 August, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava

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With Dr G Madhavan Nair's valuable insights and words of encouragement, the world eagerly awaits the culmination of Chandrayaan-3's journey.

Renowned scientist and former ISRO chief, Dr G Madhavan Nair, joined NewsX on a special broadcast to share insights and reflections on the monumental Chandrayaan missions. As we stand on the precipice of a significant day, Nair delved into his experiences with ISRO and the culmination of years of hard work.

In an exclusive interview, Madhavan Nair opened by expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to discuss this crucial day in space exploration history. “During my tenure,” he began, “Chandrayaan One marked the initiation of our mission to the Moon. The program gained momentum after receiving approval from Prime Minister Vajpayji. ISRO took it up as a challenge, enhancing the capabilities of the PSW rocket to carry Chandrayaan One to its lunar destination.”

Nair highlighted the international cooperation that characterized the mission, with NASA and ESA scientists contributing instruments alongside Indian counterparts. “It truly became an international endeavor, exploring the lunar surface’s mysteries and confirming the presence of water,” he noted.

Reflecting on the subsequent Chandrayaan Two mission, Nair described how it aimed to verify remote observations by including a lander to collect samples from the Moon’s surface. Unfortunately, the initial attempt faced a setback with a last-minute glitch causing the lander to crash instead of achieving a soft landing.

However, Madhavan Nair emphasized that ISRO’s relentless dedication led to the conception of Chandrayaan Three, a mission that has completed 90% of its objectives. “The final 10% is the most challenging,” he explained, referring to the delicate process of breaking from lunar orbit and achieving a safe soft landing. This complex operation demands the precise functioning of onboard computers, sensors, and engines in an autonomous manner—a feat that has stymied even advanced space agencies.

Nair continued, praising ISRO’s cautious approach and meticulous planning. He commended the agency’s progress and emphasized the importance of the final moments as the lander neared the Moon’s surface.

Asked about the differences between Chandrayaan Two and Three, Dr G Madhavan Nair explained that Chandrayaan Two’s orbiter continues to relay data, while Chandrayaan Three boasts improvements such as a variable thrust engine, strengthened legs, and enhanced sensors. “The AI-driven algorithm to identify a safe landing zone,” he remarked, “is a standout feature, navigating the lunar surface’s challenges to position the lander securely.”

In terms of discoveries, Nair highlighted that previous missions confirmed the presence of water and helium-3 on the Moon. Chandrayaan Three’s surface analysis is poised to validate and expand upon these findings, potentially shedding light on the Moon’s origins and offering insights for future lunar exploration.

As the world watches and waits, Nair shared his heartfelt message for the ISRO team. Acknowledging their meticulous planning and simulations, he expressed his confidence in the team’s dedication and declared, “The mission will be a 100% success.” Nair concluded with anticipation and gratitude, extending his congratulations in advance and thanking the team for their years of concerted effort in achieving this monumental goal.

With Dr G Madhavan Nair’s valuable insights and words of encouragement, the world eagerly awaits the culmination of Chandrayaan-3’s journey—a historic moment that promises to shape our understanding of the Moon and beyond.

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