India’s Chandrayaan-3 space probe returned its first photo of the Moon’s surface after its triumphant landing on Wednesday.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) posted the great shot taken by the lunar lander’s imaging camera just over three hours after landing.
It shows a “relatively” flat region on the lunar surface with the lander’s leg and accompanying shadow visible in the right corner.
Earlier, ISRO released four pictures taken by the lunar lander’s “horizontal speed camera” from the rugged surface during its heroic descent.
With its little dimples and grooves, the rough surface of the moon, pictured above, looks like yeast bubbles in bread dough.
The first photo of Chandrayaan-3 taken from the moon’s surface shows a “relatively” flat region of the south pole. This is quite unusual as the southern region of the Moon is known for its rugged and rugged terrain.
ISRO released four images taken by the lunar lander’s horizontal velocity camera of the rugged surface during its descent. It’s one of them
Chandrayaan-3 consists of a lander with a smaller rover inside that weighs only 26 kg (57 lb), roughly the equivalent of three full-sized watermelons.
The lander, which has been in lunar orbit for more than two weeks, touched down on the lunar south at 6:02 p.
m. India Standard Time (1:32 p.m. BST) on Wednesday.
The rover exited the lander just hours after landing and is currently exploring the area, ISRO confirmed.
The lander and rover’s scientific instruments will study the surface of the region for about one lunar day, or 14 Earth days – a short period compared to other space missions.
Both the lander and the rover are powered by solar energy, so after a lunar day they will be plunged into the darkness of the lunar night and will no longer be able to operate.
ISRO said further updates on the mission’s progress would soon be available as it travels through what is uncharted territory for humanity.
It is a momentous 24 hours for India, which was devastated by the failure of the mission’s predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, four years ago.
Although India is the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to safely land a craft on the Moon, it made history by being the first to do so on the south pole of the moon.
Russia had attempted to land its own spacecraft south of the moon over the weekend, but the mission failed when it spun out of control and crashed.
With its small dimples and grooves, the uneven surface of the moon, as pictured above, looks like yeast bubbles in bread dough.
Although India is the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to safely land a craft on the Moon, it made history by being the first to do so on the South Pole.
The Chandrayaan-3 lander, with its rover inside, sits atop the propulsion module that carried it into lunar orbit. The lander successfully descended to the surface of the Moon on Wednesday
The rugged southern region of the Moon is attracting great interest among Russian, Chinese and American space agencies, largely because of its rich water reserves, frozen like ice.
Pockets of this water ice, known as ‘cold traps’, have the potential to exist for thousands of years on ‘airless bodies’ that have no atmosphere, such as the moon .
Therefore, these pockets of ice could provide a record of microbial life, lunar volcanoes, materials brought to Earth by comets and asteroids, or the origin of ancient oceans.
The abundance of water ice at the South Pole explains why it has been identified as a possible future location for a human outpost, which is the focus of NASA’s upcoming Artemis program.
Chandrayaan-3 actually left Earth more than a month ago – aboard a rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, north of Chennai, on July 14.
Chandrayaan-3 took much longer to reach the Moon than those of the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, which arrived in a matter of days.
Indeed, India uses rockets much less powerful than those used by the United States at the time, which means that the probe must circle the Earth several times to gain speed before launching into its one-month lunar trajectory.
Tensions were high at ground control in India as Chandrayaan-3 made its descent watched by millions live.
This image from video provided by the Indian Space Research Organization shows the moon’s surface as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft prepares to land on Wednesday. Its golden insulating material and solar panels are visible
Residents wave the Indian flag as an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) rocket carrying the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, an island off the state’s southern coast of Andhra Pradesh on July 14, 2023.
India has a relatively modest-budget aerospace program, but one that has grown significantly in size and scale since it first sent a probe into orbit around the moon in 2008.
The latest mission has a price tag of $74.6 million, well below other countries, and is a testament to India’s frugal space engineering.
Experts say India can keep costs down by copying and adapting existing space technology, and with an abundance of highly skilled engineers who earn a fraction of the salaries of their overseas counterparts.
In 2014, India became the first Asian country to put a satellite into orbit around Mars and is expected to launch a three-day manned mission into Earth orbit by next year.
India is also working with the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) on Chandrayaan-4, which would also land south of the Moon but have a much longer lifespan.
The launch of Chandrayaan-4 is tentatively scheduled for 2025 or 2026.
China and the United States will follow India’s success by attempting to land at the Moon’s south pole themselves.
Alongside India and Russia, China and the United States are also in the race to place spacecraft on the South Pole of the Moon.
Although India won the race to be first, the other three nations are expected to become the second to do so later this decade.
The Chinese robotic exploration mission Chang’e 7, scheduled for 2026, is destined for the lunar south pole.
Meanwhile, the American NASA-run Artemis program, not content with landing an unmanned robotic gadget in the lunar south, wants to send humans instead.
The Artemis III mission, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, is scheduled for 2025, but NASA recently admitted it could be pushed back.
Russia’s bid to be the first to land at the South Pole – Luna 25 – failed just days before India claimed the record.
The Russian mission – which followed Luna 24 in 1976 – failed when it spun out of control and crashed.
Valery Yegorov, a former Russian space program researcher who now lives in exile, said the crash would severely affect future Roscosmos missions, with the next one not expected until 2028 or “even later”.