India is on the Moon
India is on the Moon

India is on the Moon

Russia cries, India exults. Four days after the failure of Luna 25, the Indian probe Chandrayaan 3 landed on the night star, near the south pole. She then deployed a small rover.

World first

Shipped on July 14 using a LVM3-M2 heavy launcher operated from the barrier island of Sriharikota (located on India's east coast), the Chandrayaan 3 landed successfully on the Moon six weeks later, on August 23 at 12:32 UTC.

The Republic of India, by succeeding on its second attempt (the first, unsuccessful, dates back to September 2019), has become the fourth world power to land softly on our natural satellite, after the USSR, the USA and China.

With Chandrayaan 3, it's also the first time in history that a probe has managed to land close to the south pole of the star.


Two week mission

Built by Isro, India's space agency, the Chandrayaan 3 probe is the perfect replica of the ill-fated Chandrayaan 2 mission, minus the orbiter : it includes a atterrisseur, christened Vikram (in memory of Professor Vikram Sarabhai, founding father of the Indian space program), and a small mobile exploration robot, Pragyan (Wisdom).

Both areequipped with solar panels and cameras, and carry scientific instruments for studying the lunar soil.

As the lander and astromobile components are not designed to withstand the low temperatures of the lunar night or to operate without solar power, the Chandrayaan 3 mission is expected to last only one lunar day, i.e. 14 Earth days.


First runs and measurements

The first tests of Pragyan took place the day after the moon landing of Chandrayaan 3.

On the fourth day of the mission, the little robot took the temperature of the ground, and sent back some rather disconcerting results, as they were much higher than expected : the temperatures recorded in fact varied between -10 degrees and +60 degrees Celsius...


In the big leagues

The success of Chandrayaan 3 consolidates India's position as the world's fourth space power, ranking this year behind the USA, China and Russia in terms of orbital launches... and ahead of Europe.

In particular, Isro has made a name for itself in recent months by ensuring the deployment into low-Earth orbit of two batches of 36 satellites from the Indo-British OneWeb constellation dedicated to the global Internet.

Next year, India could even become the fourth nation capable of sending men into space...

The resonance of Chandrayaan 3's feat is all the more significant given that it comes four days after the crash in the same region of the Russian lunar probe Luna 25, which had ambitions to burnish the image of Russia's post-Soviet space program.

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