Tremendous Success for India’s Chandrayaan-3 Lunar Mission

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, in the middle of the three-day BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, India succeeded in landing its Chandraayan-3 module on the surface of the Moon, near its South Pole. India is only the fourth nation to ever land on the Moon, and the very first to land at its South Pole — a whole new territory for Mankind’s exploration. The joy was especially great, as the team had worked without rest to achieve this in the four years since the Chandrayaan-2 lander crashed on the Moon in 2019.

The momentous event was followed intently from Johannesburg by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and countless others. In addressing the scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization Immediately after the success, Modi reflected the optimism, as well as the humility, that scientific breakthroughs generate for mankind. “India’s successful Moon mission is not India’s alone,” he said. “This success belongs to all humanity…. I am confident that all countries in the world, including those from the Global South, are capable of achieving such feats. We can all aspire for the Moon and beyond.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the summit’s host, responded: “This for us as the BRICS family, is a momentous occasion, and we rejoice with you”.

Within two hours of the landing, ISRO released the first images of the Moon’s surface around the lander, named Vikram, and began readying the scientific instruments aboard it and the rover, Pragyan, which slid down from Vikram shortly afterward and began moving over the lunar surface. Both have a mission life of one lunar day (about 14 Earth days), in which to study the Moon’s atmosphere and mineral composition, as well as the spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit and seismic activity, amongst other scientific tasks. There is also the possibility that the batteries could be recharged at the next sunrise.

Now, ISRO is getting ready for its next mission: the Aditya L-1 is scheduled to launch on Sept. 2 for India’s first space-based mission to study the Sun. The country is also preparing its first human space flight mission (Gaganyaan). As ISRO Chairman chairman S Somanath said: “This is the beginning of a golden era.”

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