India is on the cusp of achieving a remarkable milestone in space exploration as its Chandrayaan-3 probe gears up for an ambitious moon landing attempt scheduled for Wednesday morning, August 23. The live action of this historic event will be available for enthusiasts to witness.
Anticipation is high as India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is poised to touch down near the lunar south pole at approximately 8:34 a.m. EDT (1234 GMT; 6:04 p.m. Indian Standard Time, IST). If successful, India will join an elite group of nations — the Soviet Union, the United States, and China — that have achieved the feat of a soft landing on the moon.
The live coverage of this momentous occasion can be experienced on Space.com, presented by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), or accessed directly via ISRO’s platform. The coverage is slated to commence at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT; 5:20 p.m. IST).
The Chandrayaan-3 mission has been progressing smoothly thus far. Having been launched on July 14, the spacecraft flawlessly entered lunar orbit on August 5. A significant milestone was reached on August 17 when Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander successfully separated from its propulsion module, setting the stage for the upcoming touchdown attempt.
This landing endeavor is targeted for the lunar south pole region, an area believed to hold substantial reserves of water ice. Although this region remains largely unexplored on the lunar surface, Chandrayaan-3 is not the first to venture there. Russia’s Luna-25 lander, despite a recent unfortunate engine burn incident, aimed to explore the same region.
Assuming a successful landing on Wednesday, Vikram will release a compact rover named Pragyan onto the moon’s gray terrain. Over the course of approximately one lunar daytime, equivalent to around 14 Earth days, these two robotic explorers will utilize a range of scientific instruments to analyze their surroundings.
This upcoming lunar landing attempt marks India’s second foray into this endeavor. The inaugural attempt took place in 2019, but it was met with challenges as the Chandrayaan-2 lander faced complications during descent and ultimately collided with the lunar surface.
However, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was not without merit. Alongside the lander, an orbiter was dispatched to the moon, which remains operational to this day. Remarkably, Vikram, the lander of Chandrayaan-3, has established effective two-way communication with the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, as confirmed by ISRO.
As India readies itself for another shot at lunar success, the world watches in eager anticipation, recognizing the significance of every step taken towards unraveling the mysteries of the celestial bodies that grace our night sky.