India became the first country to land on the Lunar South Pole, with the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on 23 August 2023 at about 1803 Hours or 6:03 PM IST.
Days after the landing, India’s Prime Minister’s Office took to Twitter to announce that the landing site of the Chandrayaan-3 lander will be known as Shiv Shakti.
24th August: Successful Rover Ramp Down & All Systems Nominal
After Chandrayaan-3’s touchdown the post-landing operations were performed as per the schedule and ISRO took to Twitter to announce that “The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the Lander, and India took a walk on the moon.”
The Vikram Lander’s side panel unfolds and works as the ramp for the Pragyaan Rover, these operations mark another significant achievement in their mission, indicating no damage imparted throughout their journey.
ISRO later reported yesterday (24th August) on Twitter:
- 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.
In just 14 days (check out why Chandrayaan-3’s mission is 14 days), the Pragyaan will embark on experiments to collect as much data regarding the geology and atmosphere of the moon as possible.
Pragyaan’s main objective is to understand the elemental composition of the moon and, in particular, the south pole.
The understanding of the moon’s composition will be crucial to scientists in understanding the moon’s origin.
The Pragyaan Rover weighs 26kg and is equipped with stereoscopic 3D cameras that will be used to map and navigate its journey on the lunar’s surface.
It also has a set of instruments that will be used for investigations but lacks a direct communication link to Earth and must rely on the Vikram lander for relaying and transmitting data to Earth.
25th August: Roving on Lunar Surface
The Pragyaan Rover will be moving on the lunar at a speed of 1cm/second, and has already traversed about 8 meters as of 25 August.
On Twitter, the Indian Space Research Organization posted a video showing the first time Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover “stepped onto” the moon’s surface.
“A two-segment ramp facilitated the roll-down of the rover. A solar panel enabled the rover to generate power.”
The video was captured by the Vikram lander camera on Chandrayaan-3, it shows Pragyan, which has its vertical solar panel extended like a sail, descending the ramp and leaving its first traces in the soft lunar dust.
They also went ahead to share the first image of the rover and the mission’s lander taken from orbit.
The touchdown was followed by the rover traversing a distance of about 8 meters and the deployment of its payloads, the LIBS and APXS.
“All payloads on the propulsion module, lander module, and rover are performing nominally”
27th August: Thermophysical Data & Crater Encounter
First Ever Thermophysical Data Collection at Lunar South Pole
The first set of findings from the ChaSTE payload on the Vikram Lander is now available.
ChaSTE, short for Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment, aims to understand how temperatures change in the moon’s topsoil near its poles.
The experiment uses a temperature probe that can go as deep as 10 cm into the moon’s surface, fitted with 10 different temperature sensors.
This is the first time such temperature data has been collected at the lunar south pole, and more in-depth observations are ongoing.
The ChaSTE payload developed by the Space Physics Laboratory at VSSC, in collaboration with PRL, Ahmedabad.
The Rover Encounters a 4-meter Diameter Crater
Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover retraced its path after coming across a 4-meter diameter crater, said the Indian Space Organisation (ISRO) on Monday..
The Rover was commanded to retrace the path and is now safely heading on a new path, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which posted on X.
With only 10 days remaining for the completion of one lunar day, which will mark the end of the mission life of Pragyan, ISRO scientists are working to cover a maximum distance of the uncharted south pole through the six-wheeled rover.
The rover has two scientific payloads to analyze lunar soil’s mineral and chemical composition.
28th August: Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) Instrument Confirms the Presence of Sulphur
The Chandrayaan-3 Rover’s Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument has taken the first in-situ measurements of the lunar surface’s composition of elements close to the south pole.
In a statement made by ISRO on Twitter, they said that the in-situ measurements, which were not possible by the instruments on the orbiters, unequivocally confirmed the existence of sulfur (S) in the area.
The LIBS scientific technique analyzes material composition by exposing them to intense laser pulses.
A high-energy pulse is focused onto a material’s surface, generating a scorching plasma. The collected light is spectrally resolved and detected using Charge Coupled Devices.
Each element emitting a characteristic set of wavelengths in a plasma state determines the material’s elemental composition.
30th August: Pragyan Rover Uploads First Image of Vikram Lander on Lunar Surface
The Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover has captured an image of the Vikram lander on the lunar surface.
“Chandrayaan-3 Mission: Smile, please! Pragyan Rover clicked an image of Vikram Lander this morning.”
ISRO, ‘The image was taken by the Navigation Camera onboard the Rover (NavCam). NavCams for the Chandrayaan-3 Mission are developed by the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS)’, Twitter, 30 August 2023
The black-and-white picture which was shot by Pragyan’s Navigation Camera on Wednesday was shared by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on X, formerly known as Twitter.
31st August: RAMBHA-LP Payload Makes First Measurements of the Near-Surface Lunar Plasma Environment over the South Polar Region.
RAMBHA-LP, one of the payloads on the Chandrayaan-3 lander (Vikram) has completed its first in-situ measurements of the surface-bound lunar plasma environment.
According to a tweet by ISRO, The initial assessment by RAMBHA-LP payload lander indicates that plasma is relatively sparse.
“These quantitative measurements potentially assist in mitigating the noise that Lunar plasma introduces into radio wave communication,” said ISRO
They added they could contribute to the enhanced designs for upcoming lunar visitors.
RAMBHA-LP’s primary objectives are to measure different parameters of the plasma above the surface of the Moon.
The development of the RAMBHA-LP payload was led by SPL/VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram.
31st August: The Lander Imager Camera Captures the Rover Rotation in Search of a Safe Route
On Thursday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) took to Twitter to share a video of the Pragyan rover “playfully frolicking” on the lunar surface. The video, which was captured by the lander’s camera shows the rover rotating in search of a safe route.
They likened it to the feeling of a child who is playfully frolicking, “It feels as though a child is playfully frolicking in the yards of Chandamama, while the mother watches affectionately. Isn’t it?🙂.”
Since the Chandrayaan-3 mission arrived on the lunar surface on August 23, the lander and rover have been conducting numerous science experiments.
The space agency has released data on the lunar surface temperature and detected various elements, including sulphur, the first direct evidence of its presence on the Moon.
2 September 2023: Chandrayaan-3 Rover Traversed 100 meters on the Moon’s Surface
Pragyan, Chandrayaan-3’s rover, has covered 100 meters on the lunar surface, conducting experiments on the site’s chemical and elemental composition where the spacecraft made a soft and safe landing on August 23.
On Saturday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) published a photograph showing its rotation around the landing site.
2 September 2023: Chandrayaan-3 Rover Has Completed its Assignments on the Moon
Less than two weeks after its historic landing close to the lunar south pole, India’s moon rover has finished its walk on the lunar surface and been switched to sleep mode, according to India’s space mission.
The battery is fully charged right now. The solar panel will catch the light on September 22, 2023, when the next sunrise is anticipated. Keep the receiver on.
I’m hoping for a productive start to another round of assignments! If not, it will remain there permanently as India’s lunar ambassador.
4 September 2023: The Vikram Lander Underwent a Hop Experiment Successfully
Following its initial touchdown on August 23 on the Moon’s south pole, Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander has “soft-landed” on the lunar surface once more, according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Monday.
The ‘kick-start’ inspires upcoming human and sample return missions! All systems functioned normally and are in good condition. After the experiment, deployed Ramp, ChaSTE, and ILSA were folded back and redeployed successfully.
- ISRO, ‘The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the Lander, and India took a walk on the moon‘, Twitter, 24 August 2023
- ISRO, ‘All activities are on schedule…‘, Twitter, 24 August 2023
- ISRO, ‘Here are the first observations from the ChaSTE payload onboard Vikram Lander…‘, Twitter, 27 August 2023
- ISRO, ‘On 27 August 2023, the rover came across a 4-meter diameter crater positioned 3 meters ahead of its location’, Twitter, 28th August
- ISRO, ‘Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) instrument onboard the Rover unambiguously confirms the presence of Sulphur (S) in the lunar surface near the south pole, through the first-ever in-situ measurements’, Twitter, 28 August 2023
- ISRO,’Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere – Langmuir Probe (RAMBHA-LP) payload onboard Chandrayaan-3 Lander has made first-ever measurements of the near-surface Lunar plasma environment over the south polar region’, Twitter 31 August 2023
- ISRO, ‘The rover was rotated in search of a safe route. The rotation was captured by a Lander Imager Camera.’, Twitter, 31 August 2023
- ISRO, ‘Meanwhile, over the Moon, Pragan Rover has traversed over 100 meters and continuing.’ Twitter 2 September 2023
- ISRO, ‘The Rover completed its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into Sleep mode. APXS and LIBS payloads are turned off. Data from these payloads is transmitted to the Earth via the Lander.’, Twitter 2 September 2023 https://twitter.com/isro/status/1698010732128764164?t=YwHr1xedrtkh6WqnhOtaUw&s=08
- ISRO,’On command, it fired the engines, elevated itself by about 40 cm as expected and landed safely at a distance of 30 – 40 cm away’, Twitter 4 September 2023 https://twitter.com/isro/status/1698570774385205621?t=qig78ahT01VLgWtPfLOfeA&s=08