NEW DELHI — India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar rover left the spacecraft on Thursday to begin its exploration of the lunar surface and conduct experiments to aid future probes, as media hailed the historic landing as the world’s greatest scientific feat. country.
The spacecraft landed on the uncharted south pole of the Moon on Wednesday evening, days after the failure of Russia’s Luna-25, making India the first country to achieve the feat.
The lander’s soft landing after a failed attempt in 2019 sparked widespread jubilation and celebration in the world’s most populous country.
“The Ch-3 Rover came off the lander and India walked on the moon!” the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
ISRO chief S. Somanath said the “Pragyan” rover has two instruments to conduct experiments on elements and chemical composition.
“In addition to this we will carry out surface explorations, we will also do robotic trajectory planning exercise which is very important for us for future exploration,” Somanath told Indian news agency ANI, in which Reuters holds a minority stake.
Built on a budget of around 6.15 billion rupees ($75 million), it was India’s second attempt to land on the Moon. A previous mission in 2019, Chandrayaan-2, successfully deployed an orbiter but its lander crashed.
Chandrayaan means “lunar vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit. Chandrayaan-3 is expected to remain functional for two weeks, which is equivalent to one lunar day when its solar gear is built to last.
The Moon’s rugged south pole is coveted because of its water ice, believed to be able to provide fuel, oxygen and drinking water for future missions, but its rugged terrain makes landing difficult .
People across the country watched the landing on Wednesday, with nearly 7 million people watching the live stream on YouTube alone.
Prayers were also held at places of worship and schools held live screenings of the show for students.
As well as bolstering India’s position as a space power and its reputation for competitive space engineering, the landing is also seen as a major moment of national pride.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had been congratulated by everyone since Wednesday evening and that the world viewed the successful landing not as the achievement of one country but of all of humanity.
“It’s a matter of pride and a pat on the back for Indian scientists,” Modi said at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Indian newspapers had headlines shouting, among other things, ‘The moon is Indian’, ‘India is going where no nation has gone before’ and ‘India illuminates the far side of the moon’.
“The moon landing is India’s most significant scientific achievement,” The Times of India said in an editorial.
“If India is now in a position to benefit from a renewed interest in basic sciences, there is a reason: ISRO,” he says.
($1 = 82.4610 Indian rupees)
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