Chandrayaan 3 Touchdown: ISRO’s High-Stakes Game of AI and Sensors for Moon Landing

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In a groundbreaking endeavor, India’s Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is on the verge of achieving a historic milestone with the Chandrayaan-3 mission. What sets this mission apart is the unprecedented role of artificial intelligence (AI) in orchestrating the spacecraft’s critical descent to the lunar surface. As the culmination of years of preparation and planning, this high-stakes lunar landing showcases the fusion of cutting-edge technology and human expertise.

A Symphony of Precision and Patience

Behind the scenes, the vigilant mission control teams at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) are closely monitoring the Chandrayaan-3’s descent with a mixture of excitement and cautiousness. During the 15-minute descent phase, the intricacies of the landing are primarily governed by pre-programmed AI logic within the lander’s systems. While experts are present to oversee the operation, the AI’s capabilities shine through as it steers the spacecraft toward a safe landing site.

A High-Stakes Game of AI and Sensors

As the descent phase begins on August 23, the role of mission control evolves from active intervention to watchful observation. Powered by advanced AI, the spacecraft’s autonomous systems take center stage. Key to its success is AI-driven sensors working in tandem to assess the lander’s position, speed, and orientation. These sensors, including velocimeters and altimeters, provide critical data for the spacecraft’s successful landing.

ISRO’s Chairman Reveals the Technological Marvel

ISRO Chairman S Somnath sheds light on the innovative technology that underpins Chandrayaan-3’s success. An array of cameras, including hazard avoidance and inertia-based cameras, capture essential visual information. The data streams from these sensors are skillfully merged using sophisticated algorithms, creating a comprehensive image of the lander’s location. The spacecraft also features an intelligent navigation, guidance, and control system integrated seamlessly into its infrastructure, ready to adapt to any scenario.

Defying Gravity with Grace

Chandrayaan-3’s AI prowess lies in its real-time adaptability to unforeseen challenges. Through extensive simulations and meticulous algorithmic designs, the spacecraft has been engineered to respond precisely during each phase of its descent. Even in scenarios of sensor failure, the propulsion system ensures a successful landing. The lander’s journey, spanning from 30 km above the lunar surface to a delicate altitude of 7.42 km, unfolds through multiple calculated phases, showcasing the AI’s resilience.

The Climb to Success: Calculations and Choices

In the final moments of the descent, the lander faces crucial decisions. At 150 meters from the lunar terrain, a pivotal choice emerges—should the lander proceed with a vertical landing or opt for lateral movement of up to 150 meters to evade potential obstacles? This choice, driven by AI, will determine the mission’s outcome. The Chandrayaan-3 mission exemplifies the remarkable fusion of AI and human ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of space exploration and technology.

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