After the historic moon landing – which gave India a place in the select club of countries that have already safely landed a spacecraft on the moon – the unit Chandrayaan-3 It is now “sleeping” for 14 days of the lunar night, until mission controllers wake the spacecraft at the end of the month.
Major mission objectives were successfully completed, cementing Chandrayaan-3’s legacy in exploration history.
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For about two weeks, the spacecraft conducted technology demonstrations and data collection, focused primarily on analyzing the composition of the moon’s soil and extremely thin atmosphere.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed on the lunar surface on August 23.
The safe landing made India the fourth country in the world to complete the feat, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China. So far in the 21st century, only China and India have landed on the moon.
The mission also became the first to detect such proximity to the moon’s south pole, an area of major scientific and strategic importance to global space powers.
This is because the area is believed to contain deposits of water ice, which could be turned into drinking water or even rocket fuel for future missions exploring the depths of the universe.
In India, the Chandrayaan 3 mission has been enshrined as a source of national pride. More than 70 million people watched coverage of the landing online, and thousands more packed auditoriums and concerts across the country.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote: “Our relentless scientific efforts will continue to develop a better understanding of the universe for the well-being of all mankind.”
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) confirmed last Monday (4) that the lunar module Chandrayaan-3 has been put into standby mode, as the spacecraft is not designed to collect scientific data during its landing site, it is in the shadow of the moon. Earth, or lunar night.
But the space agency expects the lander — as well as a small, six-wheeled rover that has also been deployed — to be woken up again on Sept. 22.
The landing of Chandrayaan-3 in August came just days after Russia failed to land a similar spacecraft, Luna-25, near the moon’s south pole.
The day after the landing, ISRO confirmed that the Chandryaan-3 module successfully landed the six-wheeled lunar module, which appeared inside the spacecraft fuselage.
On X, previously Twitter, ISRO said the rover lifted off and landed on a small slope before setting off “in search of the moon’s secrets at the South Pole.”
The lander, which weighs about 1.7 kg, and the rover, which weighs 26 kg, together contain nearly a dozen scientific instruments.
They include a laser that can analyze the chemical composition of lunar regolith – which helps in the search for water ice – and the very thin layer of gases that make up the moon’s outer atmosphere. The rover is also equipped with a seismometer, which attempts to detect earthquakes inside the moon.
ISRO confirmed that all devices were operating normally during the mission.
The space agency shared sporadic updates on social media, posting the first glimpses of various data points collected by the module and the rover, which managed to travel a total distance of more than 100 meters across the lunar surface and managed to take pictures of the module. during the trip.
An experiment measured the temperature of the surface layer of lunar soil at different depths, and ISRO scientist BHM Darukesha told local media that the surface was much warmer than expected.
“We all thought it could be 20 to 30 degrees Celsius at the surface, but it was 70 degrees Celsius. This is surprisingly bigger than we expected,” he said.
The rover also detected some seismic activity with an instrument designed to measure tremors and earthquakes beneath the moon’s surface, and used spectroscopes to confirm the presence of sulfur near the moon’s south pole.
The scientists now intend to investigate how the element got there, whether it was naturally present on the surface or whether it was caused by a meteor strike or volcanic activity.
ISRO grounded the spacecraft on Sept. 2, and its solar panels were programmed to catch the first rays of the sun when “day” returns to the moon.
“We expect a successful awakening of another set of missions! If not, he will remain there forever as India’s ambassador to the moon,” ISRO posted on X.
Moreover, the unit completed another impressive feat on September 4 as well, when it lifted about 40 cm off the ground and made a small jump to land, about 30 to 40 cm from its original position.
ISRO stressed the importance of this technology demonstration, noting that landing the lander on the surface of the Moon will be essential to future missions aimed at bringing soil samples — or even astronauts — home.
Shortly thereafter, the lander joined the rover, and it went to sleep and was waiting to be awakened.
It’s still not clear if the lander and rover will be working properly when mission controllers try to restart them later this month.
However, all of the initial objectives set by ISRO for the mission were successful.
By Amanda Sampaio from CNN.
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