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Riding cloud nine

Riding cloud nine
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India created history on Wednesday when Chandrayaan-3 inched closer to the lunar surface, finally making a perfect landing. The move gives India a place in the elite club of four nations who were successful in a touch down mission on the Moon.

The moment was lived by the entire nation as people gathered in educational institutions, offices, city squares and religious places to watch the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) live telecast of Chandrayaan-3’s final descent to the uncharted surface of the lunar south pole.

India’s space mission has earned accolades across the globe as the hard work and toil done by the ISRO staff turned the dream project into a reality. Chandrayaan comprising the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan),  touched down on the lunar south pole at 6.04 pm on Wednesday, propelling the country to an exclusive club of four and making it the first country to land on the uncharted surface.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and its objectives are to demonstrate safe and soft-landing on the lunar surface, roving on the Moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments.

No other country has been able to land on this side of the moon before and the feat that has been accomplished will change all the narratives and stories about the moon.

Importantly, not all these missions were successful in their first attempts, with the then USSR succeeding to make a lunar impact on its sixth space flight. The Luna-2 mission of the Soviet Union crashed on the moon on September 14, 1959, making it the first human-made object to hit another celestial body.

Similarly, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) could taste success in the lunar missions on July 31, 1964, after 13 failed attempts to crash land on the moon.

NASA’s Ranger 7 was a major turning point in the race to the moon as it sent back 4,316 images before crashing into the lunar surface. The photographs helped identify safe Moon landing sites for Apollo astronauts.

China’s Chang’e Project started with orbiter missions to the moon, which generated detailed maps of the lunar surface to identify future sites for soft landings.

The Chang’e 3 and 4 missions launched on December 2, 2013 and December 7, 2018 respectively made a soft landing on the lunar surface and operated rovers to explore the moon.

The Chang’e 5 mission was launched on November 23, 2020, landed near the Mons Rumker volcanic formation on the Moon on December 1 and returned to Earth with two kilograms of lunar soil on December 16, the same year.

India’s lunar missions began with the launch of Chandrayaan 1 on October 22, 2008 that put a spacecraft in a 100 km circular orbit around the moon.

The spacecraft made 3,400 orbits around the Moon at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface and prepared a chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.

The orbiter mission, which had a mission life of two years, was, however, prematurely aborted after communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 29, 2009.

A decade later, Chandrayaan-2, comprising an orbiter, lander and rover, was successfully launched on July 22, 2019.

The objectives of the country’s second mission to the Moon were scientific studies by payloads onboard the orbiter, and technology demonstration of soft landing and roving on the lunar surface.

The success that Chandrayaan-3 has scripted has scaled up the nations ranking not only in India but across the globe giving the country a moment to cherish for long

KV News

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