The Indian lunar module continues to walk on the surface of the moon, days after the historic landing of the spacecraft

The Indian spacecraft continues its walk on the surface of the moon after the historic landing of the Indian spacecraft near the south pole of the moon earlier this week.

NEW DELHI — The Indian spacecraft continued its lunar walk on Friday after the historic landing of the Indian spacecraft near the moon’s south pole earlier this week, the Indian Space Agency said. The spacecraft’s data collection and experiments could help determine if there is oxygen and hydrogen on the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organization said the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is expected to carry out experiments over a period of 14 days, including an analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

“The spacecraft successfully passed a distance of about 8 meters (26.2 feet),” ISRO said on Friday. “All payloads on the propulsion module, lander and rover are nominally operating.”

ISRO President S.E. Somnath said the spacecraft will also study the moon’s atmosphere and seismic activities.

The Press Trust of India news agency said, “These experiments would pave the way for new scientific research on the availability of oxygen and hydrogen on the surface of the moon and could give us a direct or indirect answer about whether there is life on the moon.” The agency quoted Indian Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh as saying.

Pallava Bagla, a science writer and co-author of books on space exploration in India, said the vehicle is crawling or moving at a low speed for safety reasons to reduce bumps and damage to the vehicle on a rough surface and overcoming obstacles. It also has limited battery power.

On Thursday, Somnath said the lander touched down near the center of the 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) wide area that was targeted for landing. It landed 300 meters (985 feet) from that point.

After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India on Wednesday joined the United States, the Soviet Union and China in becoming only the fourth country to achieve the feat.

The successful mission demonstrates India’s rising status as a technological and space powerhouse and aligns with the image Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to project: a rising country asserting its place among the global elite.

The mission began more than a month ago at an estimated cost of $75 million. Somnath said India would then attempt a manned mission to the moon.

Many countries and private companies are interested in the lunar south pole region because its permanently shaded craters may contain frozen water that could aid future astronaut missions, as a potential source of drinking water or for making rocket fuel.

India’s success comes just days after the Russian Luna 25 spacecraft, which was aiming for the same lunar region, entered an out-of-control orbit and crashed. This would have been Russia’s first successful moon landing after a 47-year gap. The head of Russia’s state-controlled space company Roscosmos attributed the failure to a lack of experience due to the long pause in lunar research that followed the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

India has been active since the 1960s, launching satellites for itself and other countries, and succeeded in placing one in orbit around Mars in 2014. India plans its first mission to the International Space Station next year, in cooperation with the United States.

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