Chandrayaan-3 moon landing: ISRO says ‘rover ramped down’; made-in-India Pragyan does the moonwalk

Following a perfect moon touchdown by the Vikram lander of India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, the mission rover Pragyan rolled out on the surface of the moon — it was a magic moment, described by ISRO as “India took a walk on the moon”.

On its official X handle, ISRO said: “Chandrayaan-3 ROVER: Made in India–Made for the Moon! The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the lander and India took a walk on the moon!”

Representative computer illustration of the successful Indian moon mission. Photo courtesy: X/@Iam_SyedIrfan

The Pragyan rover rollout came sooner than expected. It had been suggested in earlier reports that the rover rollout might have to wait for a day until the moon dust sprayed up by the Vikram lander had settled. However, the rover has already begun its exploration.

President of India Droupadi Murmu congratulated the ISRO team on the successful deployment of Pragyan. “Its rolling out a few hours after the landing of Vikram marked the success of yet another stage of Chandrayaan-3. I look forward with excitement, alongside my fellow citizens and scientists, to the information and analyses that Pragyan will acquire and enrich our understanding of the moon,” she said.

In a precision manoeuvre, Vikram achieved soft landing on the lunar surface at 6.04 pm on August 23, sending all of India — and also Indian-origin people in other countries — into wild celebrations.

Also read: Indian-origin people in the US hope that Chandrayaan-3 mission makes India a world leader in space tech

ISRO had earlier said that the 26kg six-wheeled Pragyan rover was scheduled to descend from the lander onto the moon’s surface by using one of its side panels as a ramp.

ISRO Chairman S Somnath had earlier said, “After powered descent [of the lander] on to the landing site, there will be deployment of ramp and rover coming out. After this all the experiments will take place one after the other — all of which have to be completed in just one day on the moon, which is 14 days [on Earth].”

Lunar surface photograph released by ISRO after the August 23 landing. Photo courtesy: X/@isro

The Vikram lander and Pragyan rover — with a total mass of 1,752kg — are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period to study the surroundings there. However, ISRO officials do not rule out the possibility of them coming to life for another lunar day.

Chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility is one of the top jobs for the rover. The lander, too, has scientific tools to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.

The rover would study the surface of the moon through the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer to derive the chemical composition and infer mineralogical composition to further enhance understanding of the lunar surface.

Pragyan also has the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope to determine the elemental composition of lunar soil and rocks around the lunar landing site.