Chandrayaan-3 rover takes ‘walk on moon’ as India celebrates

New Delhi: Pragyan, the moon rover of Chandrayaan-3 has exited the spacecraft to begin its exploration of the lunar surface, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said.

It is moving around and leaving its imprint on the soil, a senior ISRO official said, as Chandrayaan-3 landed on the unexplored south pole of the moon on August 23 evening, days after Russia’s Luna-25 failed, making India the first country to achieve that feat.

“The rover rolled down onto the moon surface from the lander sometime around 12.30 am on Thursday (August 24). It is moving around. It is leaving its imprint on the moon’s surface,” Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) said.

The logo of ISRO and the national emblem have been engraved on the wheels of the rover to leave the imprint when it moves around. According to Unnikrishnan, the solar panels of the rover and that of the lander have been deployed.

He said the rover will collect samples of the moon and do the experiments and send the data to the lander. India’s moon lander will in turn pass on the message to the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru.

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft comprises a propulsion module (weighing 2,148 kg), a lander (1,723.89 kg) and a rover (26 kg). Accomplished with a budget of about 6.15 bn Indian rupees ($74.58m), this was India’s second attempt to touch down on the moon. A previous mission in 2019, Chandrayaan-2, successfully deployed an orbiter but its lander crashed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the successful lunar landing – previously achieved only by the United States, Russia and China – was a triumph for “all of humanity”.

ISRO on why it chose Moon’s South Pole for landing

ISRO chief S Somanath explained that the South Pole has a “specific advantage with respect to being less illuminated by the sun”. “We have gone closer to the South Pole, which is almost 70 degrees. The South Pole has a specific advantage with respect to being less illuminated by the sun. There is a potential to have more scientific content,” the ISRO chief said.

He added, “Scientists who are working on the moon showed a lot of interest in the South Pole because ultimately human beings want to go and create colonies and then travel beyond.”

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