Chandrayaan 3 landing: India becomes the fourth country ever to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface

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India has landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon, becoming only the fourth country to achieve such a feat.

This mission could cement India’s position as a global superpower in space. Previously, only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union had completed soft landings on the moon.

The Chandrayaan-3 landing site is closer to the Moon’s south pole than any other spacecraft in history. Antarctica is an area of ​​major scientific and strategic importance for spacefaring nations, as scientists believe the region is home to deposits of water ice.

The water, frozen in it Mysterious cratersIt could be turned into rocket fuel or even drinking water for future manned missions.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in South Africa for the BRICS summit, watched the landing virtually and participated in a live broadcast of the remarks.

“On this happy occasion… I would like to address all the peoples of the world,” he said. “This success belongs to all of humanity, and will help other countries’ lunar missions in the future.”

India’s attempt to land its spacecraft near the moon’s south pole comes just days after another nation failed to do the same. Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft crashed into the lunar surface on Aug. 19 after its engines failed, ending the country’s first lunar landing attempt in 47 years.

As Chandrayaan-3 approached the moon, its cameras captured images, including an image taken on August 20 and shared by the Indian space agency on Tuesday. The image provides a close-up of the moon’s gray, dusty terrain.

Chandrayaan-3 flight

India’s lunar lander consisted of three parts: the lander, rover and propulsion module, which provided the spacecraft with all the thrust required to cross the 384,400-kilometre (238,855-mile) space between the moon and Earth.

The lander, named Vikram, completed the delicate maneuvers required to make a soft landing on the lunar surface after ejecting from the thrust module. Inside are two towers, a small six-wheeled rover that will launch from the lander by rolling down a ramp.

Vikram It used its onboard thrusters to carefully orient itself as it approached the lunar surface, then slowly reduced its engines for descent just after 6 p.m. EST (8:30 a.m. ET) to applause from mission control.

The lander, which weighs about 1,700 kilograms (3,748 pounds), and the rover, which weighs 26 kilograms (57.3 pounds), are equipped with science instruments, geared up to capture data to help researchers analyze the lunar surface and provide new insights into its composition.

Dr. Angela Marusiak, assistant research professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said she’s particularly excited that the lunar lander includes a seismometer that will attempt to detect earthquakes inside the moon.

Marusiak said studying how the moon’s inner layers move could be key information for future endeavors on the lunar surface.

“You want to make sure that any potential seismic activity won’t endanger any astronauts,” Marusiak said. “Or, if we were to build structures on the Moon, they would be safe from any seismic activity.”

The lander and rover are expected to operate for about two weeks on the lunar surface. The propulsion module will remain in orbit, serving as a relay point for sending data back to Earth.

Work side by side allies India, like the United States and France, is part of a second wave of emerging space powers. The country’s space program has become one of the busiest in the world in developing exploration space technology.

Chandrayaan-3 has been a point of national pride and widespread interest across India. Crowds gathered at the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh state. On Wednesday, more than 8 million people tuned in to the live broadcast of the landing.

Students hold posters as they gather in support of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft in Mumbai on August 22, 2023. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) confirmed that the lander of Chandrayaan-3, which stands for

India’s mission has taken on greater importance since Russia’s failed attempt to land Luna 25. With the success of Chandrayaan-3, India became the second country to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface in the 21st century after China, which has placed three lunar landers since 2013 – including This is the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon. . (The last US lunar lander, the Apollo 17 mission, landed in 1972.)

More than a dozen countries have plans to send missions to the moon in the coming years, including a mission launched by Japan’s space agency – the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – which is expected to launch later this month. And the United States also has plans to send Three commercial lunar landers to the moon starting this year, while NASA continues to work toward the Artemis III mission, which could return astronauts to the moon by 2025.

However, landing on the moon remains a daunting challenge. India’s last attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon, during the Chandrayaan-2 mission in 2019, failed. Two commercial spacecraft have crash-landed on the moon recently – one from Israel in 2019 and the other from Japan in April.

“There is no question that landing on the Moon is a real challenge,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement Sunday. “But the Moon offers a great scientific reward, which is why we have seen so many recent attempts to visit the surface again. We look forward to everything we learn in the future, including from India’s Chandraayan-3 mission.

On Wednesday, Nelson also shared a congratulatory message Social mediaSaying, “Congratulations to #India Being the fourth country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon. We are glad to be your partner in this mission!

India is also a signatory to the US Artemis Accords, a document outlining proposed rules of the road for future lunar exploration. Russia and China did not sign the agreements.

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