Pragyan rover from Chandrayaan-3 is moving around on Moon’s surface in “pursuit of lunar secrets at the south pole”, the Indian Space Research Organisation said on Saturday, declaring that the robot had moved 12m till Saturday morning, and had successfully executed a turn.
All experiments on-board the lander, Vikram, and the rover are now functional and data sets are expected soon, the agency said.
“Chandrayaan-3 Mission: What’s new here? Pragyan rover roams around Shiv Shakti Point in pursuit of lunar secrets at the South Pole,” Isro said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, as it released more videos of the rover on the Moon.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi named the spot where Vikram landed “Shiv Shakti”.
Both the lander and the rover are in good health, and the mission is progressing according to schedule, Isro said.
S Unnikrishnan Nair, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said the journey of India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft has been phenomenal since its launch on July 14. “The lander landed very softly on the moon’s surface and the rover also came out and moved around. Currently, further experiments with the lander and rover payloads are going on. Everything is nominal,” Nair said at a media interaction at Bengaluru’s Isro Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC).
“We have landed very close to where we had intended, so the mission overall was a huge success,” he said.
A follow-up to the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission, the latest moon programme aims to achieve three objectives — to demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the moon surface, to demonstrate roving abilities on the surface of moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments. The agency, on Saturday, said two of these three objectives had been met.
Chandrayaan-3’s lander made a successful soft landing near the south pole of the moon at 6.04pm on August 23.
On Friday, Isro released the first images of Pragyan as it rolled out of the lander’s belly over a two-segment ramp. Officials said the rover spent the day after the landing charging its batteries – all components on the craft are solar powered.
Over the next fortnight, the lander and the rover will conduct a series of experiments on the lunar surface, where it will analyse the chemical and mineral composition of materials — dust and rock — on the surface.
On Saturday, Union minister of science and technology Jitendra Singh said that the mission has proven India’s abilities for cost-effective projects.
“Chandrayaan-3 has proved India’s capability for cost-effective space missions. The Russian moon mission, that was unsuccessful, cost ₹16,000 crore, and our (Chandrayaan-3) mission cost just around ₹600 crore. Hollywood films based on moon and space missions cost over ₹600 crore,” the minister said.
India has learnt to compensate for “cost through our skills”, the minister said.