By: Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee
“India is on the moon,” said S. Somanath, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed on the lunar South Pole. This was India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon and comes less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed. People across the country were glued to television screens and said prayers as the spacecraft approached the surface. The powered descent began, and the room at Bengaluru has burst into applause. “We are witnessing the rise of new India,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in a video call from South Africa to the control room in Bengaluru India became the first nation to land a craft near the Moon’s South Pole. Earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote proudly on Twitter media platform X, “Historic day for India’s space sector,” A new era of deep space science begins . Man is now taking new challenges to reach out to the most mysterious regions of the moon. It is an incredibly unique location to invade. More than 50 years after Apollo, we aren’t just returning to the Moon, we are opening a new vista for conducting Space missions. The South Pole of the Moon has so long been unattempted because of the extreme contrasting conditions.
NASA has its sights set on the lunar South Pole area for the Artemis era of human lunar exploration. It opened the door for deep space scientific discoveries that might help in future to find our right place in the universe..The two robots, from a mission named Chandrayaan-3, make India the first country to ever reach this part of the lunar surface in one piece – and only the fourth country ever to land on the moon. Though I am far away from the country now in Virginia, I see the people of India and the Indian diaspora here exulting in a great pride in the accomplishments of the nation’s space program the achievement of Chandrayaan-3 may be even sweeter. Luna-25, modern Russia’s first attempt to land a spacecraft on the Moon, has ended in failure with the spacecraft crashing onto the lunar surface, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Sunday. The failure once again highlights the risks involved in getting a spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon.
The main purpose of Luna-25 was to test technology for landing on the moon, and the loss of the lander during a less risky phase of the mission will add scrutiny to Russia’s space struggles. Luna 25 ends its bid to reach out to the Lunar South pole. This is now being explained as India’s victory over Russia in Astro-Politics. But today Russia is looking to India for help in the space technology. They wanted India to use Chandrayaan 3 Lander Module to provide with information regarding Luna 25 which stopped functioning. It is a matter of pride for all of us here to watch India’s Vikram lander module finally walking on the South Pole of the Moon. After India joining the lunar missions and especially after the successful Chandrayaan 3 mission the question of astro-politics is now gaining more and more significance Days after a Russian lunar landing failed, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission is set to begin exploring an area of the moon that has yet to be visited.
India’s lunar lander consists of three parts: a lander, rover and propulsion module, which provided the spacecraft all the thrust required to traverse the 3,84,400-kilometer (2,38,855-mile) void between the moon and Earth. The lander, called Vikram, completed the precision maneuvers required to make a soft touchdown on the lunar surface after it was ejected from the propulsion module. Tucked inside is Pragyan, a small, six-wheeled rover that will deploy from the lander by rolling down a ramp. The two visitors from India – a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan – finally landed in the southern polar region of the moon. The lunar lander includes a seismometer that will attempt to detect quakes within the moon’s interior. Studying how the moon’s inner layers move could be key information for future endeavours on the lunar surface
The Indian mission launched in July, taking a slower, fuel-conscious route toward the moon. Vikram out-endured its Russian counterpart, Luna-25, which launched 13 days ago for the moon. The August 23 landing was selected because it is the day when the sun will rise at the landing site. The mission is to conclude two weeks later when the sun sets. While on the surface, the solar-powered lander and rover will use a range of instruments to make thermal, seismic and mineralogical measurements. India could show scientific prowess even when resources are constrained. The country will also launch a second Mars orbiter mission.
The first Mars mission, Mangalyaan, successfully entered the planet’s orbit in 2014 and remained in communication with ISRO until the mission concluded in 2022 when the spacecraft lost power. It made India the first country to achieve Martian orbit on its first attempt. With limited resources India is doing miracles. Now onwards, a large share of India’s space efforts in the coming years will certainly focus on the moon. In addition to the scientific results of Chandrayaan-3, India is preparing a joint lunar exploration with Japan, in which India will provide the lander and Japan the launch vehicle and the rover. The robotic mission, known as LUPEX, is also intended for exploring the South Pole of the moon. Although an Indian astronaut flew to orbit in 1984, the country has never sent humans to space on its own. It is therefore preparing its first astronaut mission to space, called Gaganyaan. But the project, which aims to send three Indian astronauts to space on the country’s own spacecraft.
Additionally, India is preparing for the Aditya L-1 mission, which plans to study the sun. While no date for the solar mission has been announced, the spacecraft is being integrated with the rocket, a sign that it may be almost ready for launch. The ISRO leadership who managed Chandrayaan-3 makes clear the failure of their last moon landing attempt, in 2019, was a major driving force. “From the day we started rebuilding our spacecraft after Chandaryaan-2 experience, it has been breathe in breathe out Chandrayaan-3 for our team,” said Kalpana Kalahasti, the mission’s associate project director. The landing site lies on a plateau south of the Manzinus crater and to the west of the Boguslawsky crater. That is roughly in the same neighborhood as where India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission crashed in 2019, and where Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft, which crashed. India has landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon; becoming only the fourth nation ever to accomplish such a feat. The mission could cement India’s status as a global superpower in space. The South Pole region is considered an area of key scientific and strategic interest for spacefaring nations, as scientists believe the region to be home to water ice deposits guessed from the concentration of large chunks of granite. (The author is in Virginia Commonwealth University now as Affiliate Faculty in English. He may be reached at email@example.com)