India’s Chandrayaan-3 makes history with successful moon landing

India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon has ended in triumph, as the Chandrayaan-3 probe touched down on the lunar south pole on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. The mission is seen as a milestone for India’s space program and for the future of lunar exploration.


A victory cry of a new India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was watching the landing from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS summit, hailed the achievement as a “victory cry of a new India”. He was seen waving the Indian flag and congratulating the scientists and officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“This is a proud moment for every Indian. Chandrayaan-3 has shown the world that India is a space power and can achieve anything with determination and hard work. I salute the ISRO team for their dedication and excellence,” Modi said in a televised address.

Modi also thanked the international partners who supported the mission, including NASA, ESA, JAXA and Roscosmos. He said that India’s space endeavors are not only for national pride, but also for the benefit of humanity and peace.

A historic landing on the lunar south pole

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which consists of a lander and a rover, was launched on July 15, 2023 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. After orbiting the moon for about a month, it separated from the orbiter and began its descent to the surface.

The landing was a challenging maneuver, as the spacecraft had to avoid craters, boulders and slopes in the rough terrain of the south pole. The landing site was also in a permanently shadowed region, where temperatures can drop to -240 degrees Celsius.

The spacecraft successfully landed at 8:34 a.m. ET (6:04 p.m. IST) on Wednesday, making India the fourth country to land a probe on the moon after the US, Russia and China. It also became the first mission to land on the lunar south pole, which is considered to be a scientifically rich and strategically important location.

A series of experiments to explore the moon

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is expected to last for two weeks, during which the lander and the rover will conduct a series of experiments to study the lunar surface and subsurface. The rover, named Pragyan (meaning wisdom), will move around the landing site and collect samples for analysis. The lander, named Vikram (meaning valor), will remain stationary and perform various tests using its instruments.

One of the main objectives of the mission is to detect the presence of water ice on the moon, which could be a valuable resource for future missions. The south pole is believed to have deposits of water ice in its craters, which are shielded from sunlight by high walls.

The mission will also measure the seismic activity, thermal properties and magnetic field of the moon. It will also conduct a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface. The data collected by Chandrayaan-3 will help scientists understand more about the origin and evolution of the moon and its environment.

A comeback after a previous setback

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is India’s third lunar exploration mission, after Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar orbiter, which discovered traces of water molecules on the moon. Chandrayaan-2 was India’s first attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon, but it failed at the last moment when its lander lost contact with Earth and crashed.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission was designed as a low-cost and fast-track project to rectify the mistakes of Chandrayaan-2 and achieve India’s dream of landing on the moon. The mission reused most of the hardware and software from Chandrayaan-2, with some modifications and improvements.

The success of Chandrayaan-3 has boosted India’s confidence and reputation in space exploration. It has also demonstrated India’s technological prowess and innovation in a field that is becoming increasingly competitive and commercialized.

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