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Chandrayaan-3: "India took a walk on Moon" as rover rolls out of lander, says ISRO; "All activities on schedule, all systems normal"


Lander Imager Camera of ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 captures a portion of its landing site on the surface of the Moon after its successful descent, on Aug. 23, 2023. Photo: PTI.

BENGALURU (PTI): "India took a walk on the moon", the ISRO said on Thursday, as Chandrayaan-3's robotic rover rolled out of the lander and commenced mobility operations with all activities on schedule and all systems normal, a day after its historic landing on the unexplored lunar south pole.

The Vikram lander with Pragyan rover in its belly touched down on the Moon's surface "well within the area" identified for the purpose, said ISRO Chairman S Somanath, as the 26-kg six-wheeled rover began its exploration of the lunar surface.

The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) also said all the Lander Module(LM) payloads have been turned on.

"All activities are on schedule. All systems are normal. Lander Module payloads ILSA, RAMBHA and ChaSTE are turned ON today. Rover mobility operations have commenced. SHAPE payload on the Propulsion Module was turned ON on Sunday," it said in a post on X while giving an update in the evening.

In a post earlier in the day, the space agency said the "rover ramped down", marking the success of yet another stage of Chandrayaan-3, as it lines up a series of missions like the Mangalyaan-2 Mars Orbiter Mission, Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight programme and also the Sun mission Aditya-L1.

"Chandrayaan-3 ROVER: Made in India--Made for the Moon! The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the lander and India took a walk on the moon!"

India on Wednesday scripted history as its third unmanned Moon mission's Lander Module made a flawless soft-landing, making it only the fourth country to achieve this feat, and first to reach the uncharted south pole of Earth's only natural satellite.

As the country basked under the glory of its spectacular space success, senior BJP leader and former Karnataka Minister R Ashoka said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Bengaluru on August 26 to congratulate ISRO scientists and officials.

Somanath said the rover movement is working "very well".

"The lander landed perfectly on the intended site. The landing location was marked as 4.5 km x 2.5 km -- I think on that space, and the exact centre of that was identified as the location of landing. It landed within 300 metres of that point. That means it is well within the area identified for landing," Somanath told PTI in response to a question on the exact landing site.

He said there are two instruments in the rover and three instruments on board the lander, and all of them have been switched on sequentially.

"They will study basically the mineral composition of the moon, as well as the atmosphere of the Moon and the seismic activities there."

Prime Minister Modi said science has made it possible for India to reach a difficult terrain on the Moon and thanked world leaders for their congratulatory messages on Chandrayaan-3's success.

"Since yesterday I have been receiving congratulatory messages from everyone. Worldover, this achievement is not seen as a success limited to one country, but of the entire humanity. It is a matter of pride for all of us. This is an opportunity to congratulate Indian scientists on behalf of the entire world," he said in brief remarks at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

"There have been no attempts to land in the area that India had targeted. India's attempt has been successful. Science has been able to take us to difficult terrain. This itself is a big achievement of science and scientists."

President Droupadi Murmu congratulated the ISRO team for the successful deployment of Pragyan.

"Its rolling out a few hours after the landing of Vikram marked the success of yet another stage of Chandrayaan 3. I look forward with excitement, alongside my fellow citizens and scientists, to the information and analyses that Pragyan will acquire and enrich our understanding of the moon", she said.

The top United Nations(UN) leadership congratulated India, describing Chandrayaan-3's success a "giant step" for humanity and a "great achievement".

Associate Spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Florencia Soto Nino termed India's mission to the moon as "very exciting."

The rover descended from the lander's belly, onto the Moon's surface, using one of its side panels as a ramp.

The lander and rover-- with a total mass of 1,752 kg --are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period (about 14 Earth days) to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.

However, ISRO officials do not rule out the possibility of them coming to life for another lunar day.

"After the touchdown all the experiments will take place one after the other -- all of which have to be completed in just one day on the moon, which is 14 days," according to Somanath, adding that as long as the sun shines all the systems will have its power

"The moment the sun sets, everything will be in pitch darkness, temperature will go as down as low as minus 180 degree celsius; so it is not possible for the systems to survive, and if it survives further, then we should be happy that once again it has come to life and we will be able to work on the system once again, and we hope that to happen."

Veteran space scientist K Kasturirangan said the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission has opened up the potential to use the Moon as a take-off point for future planetary missions, and bolstered India's credentials to participate in such futuristic explorations,

The latest lunar mission is "one of the very key milestones of ISRO's journey in the last 50 years because for the first time you have comprehensively demonstrated the ability of the space programme of ISRO to land an object outside the earth, into another body of the solar system", the former ISRO chairman told PTI.

Another former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair said Chandrayaan-3's success will further boost India's international commercial contracts as there will be acceptance of its technical competence and launch systems

Nair said this success is the first stepping stone to begin India's planetary explorations.

"We have really broken the ice and made a good beginning," he told PTI.

Search engine giant Google also celebrated India's success with a special animated doodle.

The rover Pragyan will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility.

It would study the surface of the moon through its payloads APXS - Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer - to derive the chemical composition and infer mineralogical composition to further enhance understanding of the lunar surface.

The rover also has another payload--Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) to determine the elemental composition of lunar soil and rocks around the lunar landing site.

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