India has achieved a historic milestone by successfully landing its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon’s south pole.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has shared the spacecraft’s first photograph of the lunar surface shortly after its triumphant landing.
The image, captured by the moon lander’s imaging camera just over three hours after touchdown, depicts a relatively flat region on the moon’s surface, with the lander’s leg and its shadow visible in the right-hand corner.
Daring Descent Captured in Images
During its descent, the moon lander’s “horizontal velocity camera” provided a series of four images showcasing the rugged lunar surface.
The moon’s topography, characterized by dimples and grooves, resembles yeast bubbles in bread dough when viewed from above.
Chandrayaan-3’s Features and Exploration
Chandrayaan-3 is composed of a lander housing a smaller rover, weighing only 26 kg (57 lb), roughly equivalent to three watermelons.
Following over two weeks in lunar orbit, the lander successfully touched down on the lunar south at 18:02 Indian Standard Time on Wednesday.
The rover, deployed from the lander shortly after landing, is now actively exploring the region, confirmed by ISRO.
Scientific instruments on both the lander and the rover will analyze the lunar surface for approximately one lunar day, which translates to 14 Earth days.
However, their operations will cease after this period due to the absence of solar power during the lunar night.
Exploring the Moon’s Rich Resources
The lunar south pole is drawing significant attention from international space agencies due to its valuable reserves of water in the form of ice.
These “cold traps,” pockets of water ice, have the potential to provide insights into microbial life, lunar volcanic activity, and the origin of water on Earth.
The region’s abundance of water ice makes it a potential site for future human exploration and scientific research, particularly in NASA’s upcoming Artemis program.
India’s Budget-Conscious Space Program
Chandrayaan-3’s journey began over a month ago, departing Earth on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Despite its longer trajectory compared to the Apollo missions, which relied on more powerful rockets, India’s cost-effective approach to space exploration is evident in the mission’s price tag of $74.6 million.
This approach involves leveraging existing technology and a skilled workforce.
Future Lunar Exploration Endeavors
India’s accomplishment marks the first successful landing on the moon’s south pole, while China, the United States, and Russia are also striving to achieve this feat.
China’s Chang’e 7 mission is scheduled for 2026, targeting the lunar south pole for exploration.
NASA’s Artemis program aims to land humans on the moon’s south pole as part of the Artemis III mission, scheduled for 2025.
In conclusion, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission stands as a historic achievement, propelling India into the ranks of countries that have successfully landed on the moon.
The mission’s success underscores India’s growing presence in space exploration and its commitment to scientific advancements.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn