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Chandrayaan-3 Achieves Historic Soft Landing at Moon’s South Pole, Marks India’s Triumph in Lunar Exploration

Date: August 24, 2023

In a significant achievement, India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft has successfully reached the moon’s south pole after a 40-day journey that began at the Sathish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. This marks a triumphant moment for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), especially in light of the historical challenges faced during previous lunar missions.

The Vikram lander, which faced a crash during a previous Chandrayaan mission, has now managed to touch down on the lunar surface, specifically targeting the moon’s south pole region.

ISRO announced on Wednesday that the automatic landing sequence of Chandrayaan-3 was set to activate. This sequence triggers an algorithm designed to take control as the spacecraft approaches its intended landing site, facilitating a smooth touchdown.

Over the next two weeks, Chandrayaan-3 is poised to conduct a series of experiments, including a crucial analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface using a spectrometer. This analysis will provide invaluable insights into the moon’s geology and mineral content.

Carla Filotico, a managing director at SpaceTec Partners, emphasized the significance of landing at the moon’s south pole. This location offers an opportunity to investigate the presence of water ice on the moon, a critical aspect for lunar research.

The primary objective of this mission is to demonstrate ISRO’s capability to execute a delicate and precise lunar landing. It’s worth noting that India’s previous attempt, Chandrayaan-2 in 2019, encountered difficulties and ended in a crash near the moon’s south pole.

Chandrayaan-3’s success follows the setback of the past mission, showcasing India’s determination and progress in space exploration. Interestingly, this achievement comes shortly after a similar endeavor by the Russian space agency to land in the same region.

With this accomplishment, India joins an exclusive league of nations that have achieved a soft landing on the moon. Prior to Chandrayaan, this group included Russia, China, and the United States.

The roots of India’s space program can be traced back to Vikram Sarabhai, an esteemed figure in space research, whose legacy is honored with the naming of the Vikram lander.

Looking ahead, the Chandrayaan-3 Rover is poised to perform on-the-move chemical analyses of the lunar surface. This Rover will be deployed by the Vikram lander and will carry out its investigations following a gentle landing at the moon’s south pole.

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