The Second Attempt: India’s Mission to the Moon’s South Pole

The Second Attempt: India’s Mission to the Moon’s South Pole

As the Eastern seaboard of the US goes about its morning commute on Wednesday 23 August, India will be making its second attempt at deploying a rover on the lunar surface. If successful, Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander will be the first craft to touch down near the Moon’s south pole, an attractive destination for exploration that could prove perfect for future settlement.

The Livestream

To watch this landmark event, jump on the livestream below. The actual landing is expected to take place at around 1230 UTC on Wednesday 23 August (that’s 8:30 AM EDT, or 6:00 PM in Indian Standard Time), but to make sure you don’t miss the action, tune in a little bit earlier, as the full broadcast is set to begin 40 minutes before that time.

Past Failures

The attempt comes just days after Russia’s first lunar mission in half a century ended in failure as Roscosmos aimed to land a probe in the same region. India’s previous mission also met with disaster after the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost contact with the lander on 7 September 2019. The machine’s shattered remains were later discovered just 600 kilometers (about 370 miles) from the lunar south pole.

Thankfully the mission’s orbiter, Chandrayaan-2, remains in the Moon’s orbit, still very much alive and keeping in touch with Vikram. Should Chandrayaan-3’s lander make it to the surface fully intact, it will finally establish our presence in the cold dust of the Moon’s southern extremity. Numerous studies of the area suggest masses of ice ought to be locked up in its shadows, providing future missions with one less resource to cart into space.

The Pragyan Rover

A six-wheeled rover, named Pragyan (‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit) like its lost predecessor, is set to roll slowly over the surface to record the landscape in 3D, mapping the distribution of various elements with its alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and spectroscope and analyzing the conductivity of the underlying geology.

New Prospects for Exploration

The moon has always fascinated humankind as a celestial body that holds unknown mysteries. The south pole of the moon, in particular, presents a unique opportunity for exploration and potential settlement. The lunar south pole is an attractive destination because it has permanently shadowed regions that are believed to contain abundant reserves of water ice. Water ice on the moon could not only provide crucial resources for future missions but also serve as a potential stepping stone for human colonization beyond Earth.

The journey to the moon’s south pole is not without its challenges. The harsh lunar environment poses significant technological challenges that must be overcome for a successful landing. The topography and surface conditions, such as rough terrains and jagged rocks, make landing and navigation extremely difficult. Additionally, the extreme temperature variations and lack of atmosphere make it imperative for the spacecraft to have robust thermal control systems.

The livestream of the Chandrayaan-3 mission is an exciting opportunity for people around the world to witness a significant milestone in space exploration. By broadcasting the event, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) aims to inspire and engage the public in the scientific endeavors of the nation. It allows people to feel connected to the mission and experience the thrill of space exploration from the comfort of their homes.

The Future of Lunar Exploration

The Chandrayaan-3 mission represents a crucial step towards unlocking the mysteries of the moon’s south pole and expanding our understanding of the lunar surface. It opens up new possibilities for future missions and potential collaborations between nations in the field of space exploration. As more countries join the race to the moon, we can expect to see further advancements in technology and scientific discoveries that will shape the future of lunar exploration.

India’s second attempt at deploying a rover on the moon’s surface brings hope and excitement for the scientific community and space enthusiasts globally. By witnessing this historic event through the livestream, we have the opportunity to be a part of this groundbreaking mission and witness the progress of humanity’s quest to explore outer space.


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