The Chandrayaan-3 Mission on the Moon: The Vikram Lander Deploys the Lunar Rover Pragyan

Last week, India achieved a historic space milestone by landing the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the Moon, more precisely, the Vikram lander. The successful operation made India the fourth country in the world to reach the lunar surface.

The Vikram Lander and the Pragyan Rover

After the initial images from the surface, ISRO released captivating videos of the landing. These videos depict the Vikram gently placing the 25 kg, six-wheeled Pragyan rover on the Moon’s surface. Interestingly, the name Pragyan translates as “wisdom” from Sanskrit. The rover is designed for terrain exploration and the potential discovery of water ice deposits. A second video shows the rover already in motion on the lunar surface.

India’s current endeavor aims to unveil a long-standing mystery: the presence of water ice in the rocky polar regions of the Moon. This information could become crucial for future lunar exploration and colonization efforts.

The Race for Lunar Dominance

India’s historic lunar landing wasn’t just successful due to the precise maneuver but also because the Vikram lander became the first spacecraft to land in the region of the Moon’s southern pole. This location is of great interest to scientists, as it’s believed to contain substantial water ice deposits. The discovery of ice could contribute to future strategies for lunar colonization.

Tracks on the lunar surface made by the Pragyan rover. Seeing a hazardous crater, the rover turned back to reach a safe area. This path image was taken by its navigation camera. Image credits: ISRO

The landing of Vikram and the deployment of Pragyan mark the beginning of a new phase in international space competition. In light of the plans of the US and China for lunar exploration, India’s role becomes significant in the collective efforts to establish a sustained presence on the Moon, reshaping the balance of power on this celestial body.

Furthermore, other countries have also expressed interest in lunar exploration. The Japanese space agency JAXA is preparing for an attempt to land its own spacecraft on the Moon named SLIM. India’s achievement could pave the way for other nations to join this exciting frontier of space development.

Earlier, we explained why landing on the Moon is so challenging.