"Chose South Pole Because...": ISRO Chief On Chandrayaan-3's Prime Objectives

Chandrayaan 3: "Entire instrumentation of Chandrayaan-3 is for landing on the south pole or near the south pole," S Somanath said.

Chandrayaan 3: ISRO chief S Somanath spoke on various aspects of the mission


The Chandrayaan-3 overcame several odds ahead of a successful soft landing on the surface of the moon last evening, catapulting India into the elite space club. India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon's south pole after Russia's attempt at a lunar touchdown in the same area ended in failure following an engine malfunction

This was India's third attempt at landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface. The last one, Chandrayaan-2, was listed as a partial failure after its lander crashed on the Moon in September 2019.

ISRO Chief S Somanath says that since Chandrayaan-2 made a hard landing, they could not recover anything and had to do everything fresh.

"Everything had to be done fresh for this mission. From Chandrayaan-2, we could not recover anything from the moon," S Somanath told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

"The first year was spent figuring out what went wrong with Chandrayaan-2, the next year we revised everything. The last 2 years we conducted tests," he adds.


He also said that the space research organisation was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Covid upset some of our programmes. But we were still launching some rockets. Post-Covid, we are back on track," says Mr Somanath.

Chandrayaan-3's accomplishment is special as no other spacecraft has been able to achieve a soft landing near the moon's South Pole. The south pole - far from the equatorial region targeted by previous missions, including the crewed Apollo landings - is full of craters and deep trenches.

The findings from the Chandrayaan-3 mission could advance and expand knowledge of lunar water ice, potentially one of the moon's most valuable resources.

Over the next 14 days, the six-wheeled rover will carry out experiments on the surface of the moon. Both the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover have a mission life of 1 lunar day, equal to 14 days on Earth. The lander module is carrying five payloads for specific tasks on the Moon.

"Entire instrumentation of Chandrayaan-3 is for landing on the south pole or near the south pole. But there are a huge amount of scientific possibilities on the South Pole. They are related to the presence of water and minerals on the moon," Mr Somanath says when asked why they picked the South pole.

"There are many other physical processes that scientists would want to be investigated. Five of our instruments are targetted towards exploring those areas," he adds.