India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander has provided a glimpse of its journey by releasing its first images from the moon. The spacecraft entered orbit around the moon on August 5, 2023, positioning itself for an upcoming lunar landing attempt on August 23.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) unveiled the images on Sunday, showcasing the spacecraft’s arrival at its destination. Chandrayaan-3 was launched on July 14 and gradually elevated its orbit before conducting a key maneuver on July 31, setting it on a trajectory towards the moon.
To prepare for the anticipated landing, the spacecraft will undergo further engine burns to attain a circular path approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface. This altitude places it in an ideal position for a precise landing attempt.
The recently released images capture the spacecraft’s solar arrays in the foreground, with the magnificent moon serving as a backdrop. Notable lunar features, such as large impact craters and lunar mare, are visible in the photographs.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission, valued at 6 billion rupees ($73 million), strives to accomplish a soft lunar landing near the moon’s south pole. If successful, India will join an exclusive group consisting of the United States, former Soviet Union, and China, as the only nations to achieve this feat.
The mission’s lander, named Vikram, will carry a small rover known as Pragyan. Once safely on the lunar surface, the duo will embark on surface operations and conduct experiments for approximately 14 Earth days. This limited time frame is due to the onset of the lunar nighttime, during which extreme cold temperatures make it challenging to operate.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 sets forth on an ambitious mission to deepen our understanding of the moon’s unexplored regions. As the spacecraft continues its journey, the world eagerly awaits the outcome of its landing attempt.
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