India’s lunar spacecraft, Pragyan Rover, recently faced a substantial hindrance when it encountered a four-meter crater.
Fortunately, the rover was able to spot the crater three meters from the edge and was rerouted to a safer path. This detour had significant implications for the lunar odyssey.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) timely tweeted about the event, ensuring everyone knew the rover has been safely re-routed.
The team working on the Pragyan Rover has been extremely cautious throughout its journey on the moon’s surface, which contributed to the avoidance of this potential setback.
The Solar-Powered Explorer and the Race Against Time
With significant landscapes still to explore in its two-week lifespan, the six-wheeled, solar-powered rover found itself in a “race against time”.
In the words of Nilesh M Desai, Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC), there are only 10 days left for the completion of one lunar day, and the rover has to cover maximum ground in this period.
So what was the relevance of this detour to the explorer rover’s journey? It acted as a moment of suspense for this metaphorical “race”, veering it momentarily off the uncharted Southern pole’s course and adding another layer of intrigue to the lunar mission.
Mission’s Main Objectives and Progress So Far
Let’s familiarize ourselves with the key objectives of the Pragyan Rover odyssey.
The first was a soft landing on the lunar surface, second, movement of the Pragyan rover, and third, obtaining science data via payloads attached to the rover and lander Vikram.
The first two objectives have been accomplished with flying colors. But, the third, which involves gathering scientific data, is currently ongoing with promising results.
The lander module of the Chandrayaan-3 mission has begun conducting its set of experiments and is successfully relaying the results back to ISRO.
In addition, ISRO released a graph showing temperature variation with increasing lunar surface depth, courtesy of the ChaSTE payload aboard Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander.
This payload is equipped with a temperature probe capable of reaching ten centimeters beneath the lunar surface.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission took India’s space exploration to new heights on August 23. The rover’s landing module made a successful touchdown on the moon’s South Pole – making India the fourth country to achieve this feat after the US, China, and Russia.
The incident of the Pragyan Rover encountering a four-meter lunar crater marked a sudden but safe detour in the lunar odyssey.