India’s lunar rover takes its first steps on the lunar surface, a day after the country made history by landing near the South Pole for the first time.
Chandrayaan-3 “lifted off” from the lander and “India took a walk on the moon!” the space agency said.
Vikram landed successfully as planned on Wednesday evening.
India is one of the selected countries, after the USA, the former Soviet Union and China, which can carry out a soft landing on the moon.
A 26 kg rover named Pragyaan (Sanskrit for wisdom) was brought to the moon in the belly of the Vikram lander.
India makes a historic landing near the moon’s south pole
A race to uncover the mysteries of the moon’s south pole
coincides with the start of a lunar day: a day on the moon equals 28 days on earth, meaning the lander and rover have 14 days of sunlight to recharge their batteries.
When night falls, they download and stop working. Whether they will come back to life at the beginning of the next lunar day is not yet known.
is also equipped with several scientific instruments designed to help figure out what’s happening above and below the lunar surface.
is believed to contain important minerals, but one of Chandrayaan-3’s main purposes is to search for water. Scientists say huge craters near the SouthPole that are constantly in shadow contain ice that could allow humans to live on the moon in the future.
can also be used to fuel spacecraft bound for Mars and other distant destinations.
Tense moments preceded Wednesday’s landing as the lander began a dangerous descent. The lander’s speed was gradually reduced from 1.68 km per second to almost zero, allowing for a smooth landing on the lunar surface.
This historic moment was celebrated across the country, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that “India is now on the moon” and that “we have gone where no other country could have gone”.
The landing came just days after the Russian Luna-25 spacecraft went out of control and crashed on the moon.
The crash also exposed the difficult terrain of the south polar region, where the surface is “very rough” and “cratered and rocky.”
India’s latest moon mission sends first photos
India’s second moon mission, which also tried to land there in 2019, failed: the lander and rover were destroyed, but the orbiter survived. Continue orbiting the moon and helping the Vikram lander send images and data back to Earth for analysis.
India is not the only country observing the moon: interest is growing worldwide and many more missions to the lunar surface will be launched in the near future. Scientists say there is still much to be understood about the moon, often described as the gateway to space.