India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft has taken impressive photos of the moon as it gets ready for its special landing attempt, expected in just a few days.
Chandrayaan-3 was launched on July 14th with a goal to make India’s first-ever successful landing on the moon. The combination of a lander and a rover has been following its schedule as planned. It successfully entered the moon’s orbit on August 5th and recently detached from its propulsion module on August 17th.
Capturing the Journey
During its journey, the spacecraft has been capturing many pictures, recording important moments along the way. One of the recent images shows the propulsion module flying freely, which was shared by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on X (formerly known as Twitter) on August 18th.
A Closer Look at the Moon
In a short 31-second video shared on X, multiple images taken by Chandrayaan-3’s landing module were combined. Most of these pictures show the moon’s surface, and some of the craters passing below the spacecraft are identified by ISRO, including Fabry and Giordano Bruno.
ISRO also revealed more images of the moon taken by Chandrayaan-3 in another X post. This time, a 17-second video was shared, featuring photos captured on August 15th.
All of this photo-taking effort is part of the preparation for Chandrayaan-3 lender’s landing attempt, which is planned for August 23rd or 24th near the moon’s south pole. If successful, this achievement would be significant for India. So far, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China have managed to softly land spacecraft on the moon. Additionally, no spacecraft has ever touched down near the moon’s south pole, a place believed to have water ice that could potentially support life. (Russia might achieve this as well; their Luna-25 probe is set to land near the south pole, possibly as early as August 21st.)
Chandrayaan-3’s mission has been funded with a budget of 6 billion rupees (around $72 million in today’s currency exchange rates). The mission involves a lander named Vikram, carrying a small rover called Pragyan.
If everything goes as planned, the robotic duo will explore the moon’s unique surroundings for about 14 Earth days after landing.