On August 23, India made a strong mark in space history thanks to the success of Chandrayaan-3. It was not only the first nation to land a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, but also the fourth to leave any footprints on Earth’s glowing companion at all. However, the landing of the Lunar Module was only the first step in its ultimate story.
Since reaching the south pole of the moon, Chandrayaan-3 worked hard to have deployed a rover called Pragyan to explore the cratered surface, used onboard cameras to send back video of its surroundings, and even began to achieve research goals planned for a two week stay on the ball.
On Saturday (August 26), for example, scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization presented a Video to X (formerly known as Twitter) by Pragyan roaming around the mission’s landing point, which has been dubbed Shiv Shakti Point. In the video, the gold-hued lunar explorer can be seen at the far end of two faint tracks he’s left in the lunar soil since leaving the lander called Vikram that took him there. The gentle way Pragyan enters a desolate, gray world is almost enchanting.
Shortly after the release of this update, ISRO also released a kind Checklist for X After successfully completing a safe and soft landing and deploying Pragyan, Chandrayaan-3 has started conducting on-site scientific experiments. “All payloads are functioning normally,” the agency posted on X.
Related: Pragyan, Vikram, Vikas: How did the Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 get its name?
This prelude to lunar south pole science was quickly explained when ISRO released another update on X on Sunday (August 27) regarding one of Chandrayaan-3’s payloads called the ChaSTE experiment, or Chandra’s surface thermophysical experiment.
Basically, the purpose of this experiment is to use a temperature probe and ten individual temperature sensors to measure temperature profiles of the ground at the moon’s south pole. The goal, explains ISRO, is for ChaSTE to help scientists understand the thermal behavior of the lunar surface. And it seems that ChaSTE has already figured out a few things.
Illustrated by a Graphic ISRO publishedThe experiment examined different lunar surface temperatures at different depths, marking the “first such profile for the lunar south pole”.
Chandrayaan-3 Mission: Here are the first observations of the ChaSTE payload aboard the Vikram lander. ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment) is measuring the temperature profile of the lunar soil around the pole to understand the moon’s thermal behavior… pic.twitter. com/VZ1cjWHTndAugust 27, 2023
Detailed observations on that front are still ongoing, the agency said, but in case you’re wondering what Pragyan is up to, the last word we heard was a dangerous crater. Due to the nature of the south pole of the moon, such dangers are to be expected. In fact, this is a key reason why the Chandrayaan-3 landing was such a big event. Although actually everyone wants to get to the south pole of the moon – because there are likely to be large amounts of water ice Landing there is tough because the region is so heavily covered in craters.
The rover was only about 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) from its location on Sunday (August 27). discovered a crater which appeared to be about 4 meters (13 feet) wide. “The rover has been ordered to retrace the path,” ISRO wrote on X. “It is now safely moving on a new path.”
The dangerous crater on the moon seen by Pragyan. (Image credit: ISRO)