CHANDRAYAAN-3. The Indian space mission ended 15 days after its arrival on the Moon. A look back at the discoveries and results of an already historic mission.
On August 23, 2023, India struck big by landing its first space probe on the Moon, becoming the fourth nation to achieve this feat. The landing of Chandrayaan-3 had taken place in the South Pole region of the Moon, a difficult to access and highly coveted region of our natural satellite. After two weeks of exploration and scientific measurements, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover had been put to sleep as lunar night approached.
During his short period of activity on the surface of the Moon, Pragyan has not been idle. Indeed, the rover had time to travel a hundred meters, to take a few photographic shots, to take temperature measurements and various soil analyzes which revealed some surprises to the scientists. The valuable data collected in this way was sent to the mission's scientific team before the machines were put on standby. Let's take stock of the progress of the mission and its discoveries.
The multiple measuring instruments with which the lander and the rover of the Chandrayaan-3 mission are equipped have made it possible to carry out some analyzes of the lunar soil. The discoveries thus made represented a considerable scientific contribution and were the occasion for some surprises.
Using the probe and the thermal sensors fitted to the lander, the mission's scientists discovered that the temperature dropped very rapidly in the first centimeters of the lunar surface. This temperature thus went from 60°C on the surface to -10°C at a depth of 8 centimeters.
The Pragyan rover had also studied the composition of the lunar soil, thus confirming for the first time the presence of sulfur which could be the result of past tectonic activity of the Moon. The measurements carried out also indicated the presence of other compounds such as aluminum, iron, chromium and titanium.
As the space probe circled the Moon before landing, Chandrayaan-3 captured a series of snapshots released by the Indian Space Agency using his camera. Here you can see the dark side of the Moon and its many craters:
Shortly after his first spins on the lunar surface, Pragyan had immortalized his first crater, a dangerous relief of 4 meters in diameter. The craft had to turn back to take a safer route.
On August 30, ISRO published this shot of the Vikram lander captured using the rover's onboard camera:
Chandrayaan-3 is a space probe designed by the Indian Space Agency, ISRO, which was launched on July 14, 2023. Consisting of a lander that landed gently on the surface of the Moon and A rover which descended from the landing module using an inclined ramp, this probe made several discoveries during its mission which began in August 2023.
To carry out its mission, the Chandrayaan-3 probe has carried various instruments. The lander was notably equipped with a camera, a seismometer to study the ground of the Moon as well as several tools allowing it to carry out certain measurements and to analyze the lunar atmosphere. For its part, the rover had two spectroscopes to study the chemical nature of the lunar soil as well as several cameras. This probe succeeded Chandrayaan-2 which crashed onto the surface of the Moon in July 2019.
For the landing of the Chandrayaan-3 probe, ISRO had selected a site which is between the craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N. This place is located not far from the South Pole of the Moon, a very rugged region dotted with craters and reliefs where the maneuver is particularly difficult to carry out. Before reaching its landing zone, the probe had completed several orbits around the Moon and then began its descent.
The lander Vikram, which means "valour" in Sanskrit, was responsible for studying the surface of the Moon. For this, he had to take an interest in its seismic and thermal characteristics, its geology as well as the gases that make up its meager atmosphere. For its part, the rover Pragyan meaning "wisdom" in Sanskrit, weighing 26 kg, was to focus its efforts on studying the composition of the soil from a chemical and mineralogical point of view.