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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

India releases first photo from Moon landing

The Chandrayaan-3 mission made the historic step near the lunar south pole

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Wednesday released the first photo from its lunar probe, which earlier in the day became the first ever to successfully land in the south polar region of the Moon.

The black-and-white image, stamped with the ISRO watermark, shows “a portion of Chandrayaan-3’s landing site,” one of the legs of the Vikram lander, and the shadow it cast on the lunar surface, according to the Indian space agency.

“Historic day for India’s space sector,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after watching the livestream of the successful landing from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS summit.

India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, successfully orbited the Moon in 2008. The first attempt at a polar landing came in 2019, with Chandrayaan-2, but the Vikram lander lost contact with mission control just before landing and crashed into the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-3 launched on July 14.

The lander is around 2 meters tall and has a mass of just over 1,700 kg. It carries a lunar rover, dubbed Pragyan, and is intended to study the south polar region. Scientists hope to confirm earlier instrument findings of ice on the Moon, which could be used for air, water and fuel for future space exploration.

Wednesday’s landing made India the fourth country to successfully carry out a soft landing on the lunar surface – after the Soviet Union, the US and China – and the first to do so in the rugged polar region in the south.