Chandrayaan 3: For the next 14 days the rover Pragyan will send images and data.
India's moon mission Chandrayaan-3 has made a successful soft landing near the moon's South Pole, bringing cheer to a billion hearts and propelling India to the elite space club. "India is on the moon," declared space agency ISRO chief S Somnath.
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India has become the first nation to land near the Moon's South Pole, which is the hot new destination since traces of water was detected in the area. The touchdown took place at 6.04 pm amid huge cheers in the war room of ISRO in Bengaluru. Social media was flooded with congratulatory messages.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who joined in the event online from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS Summit, said: "This moment is precious and unprecedented. This moment announces the victory bugle of a New India. This moment is the strength of 1.4 billion heartbeats".
"India reached the uncharted lunar South Pole because of our scientists' hard work and talent... Our moon mission is also based on the human-centric approach, which is why the success belongs to all humanity. It will help moon missions by the other countries in the future," he added.
"Thanks to everyone for your prayers, excitement and love for the nation. This success is dedicated to all of you. The next mission is Gaganyaan (human space flight). We are targeting to have it on September or in the first week of October," said ISRO chief S Somnath.
The successful landing of the Vikram lander has kicked up a lot of fine dust. The rover Pragyan was rolled out only after the dust had dispersed -- a process that takes a few hours. Unlike Earth, the dust will not settle in moon, given its lower gravitation.
The location has been chosen with care. The area, which yielded traces of water, is expected hold the key on lunar water ice, which could be a hugely valuable resource. That there is water on the moon's surface was detected by a NASA instrument aboard the ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 probe in 2009.
For the next 14 days -- equivalent to one moon day -- the rover Pragyan will send images and data from the surface of the moon. After 14 days, its activity is likely to slow down, given that it is powered by solar cells. The moon rover will be in touch with the Lander Vikram and the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2. The lander will relay data to ISRO, which has no direct link with the Rover.
The moon lander was launched on July 14, perched on a LVM 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle. It was placed in the lunar orbit on August 5. The tricky soft landing today was preceded by subtle maneuvers -- what the scientists called "20 minutes of terror". The lander, which was powered by four engines, cut off two to lose speed over the last 30 km. It then performed the challenging change from a horizontal to vertical position for touchdown and controlled its speed – a process that had gone wrong in Chandrayaan-2 in 2019.
Following the successful landing, India could rename the South Pole of the moon "Chandra Gangotri" – inspired by the country' s Antarctica Mission Dakshin Gangotri, said senior journalist Pallava Bagla.
India has become the fourth country to land a rover on moon after USSR/Russia, United States and China. ISRO has a number of projects lined up -- one of them a mission to study the Sun, and a human space flight programme, Gaganyaan. Aditya-L1, the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun, is also getting ready for launch.