AUGUST 27, 2023
NEW DELHI: Days after leading the country’s elite space agency to do the most difficult task in the world of landing a spacecraft on the most difficult terrain on the lunar south pole where nobody has ventured before, Isro chairman S Somanath said on Sunday that India has the “best picture of the Moon”.
Somanath told the media in Thiruvananthapuram, “We have the closest picture of the real regolith. They are precious commodities and they are not available anywhere in the world. Nobody has such close-proximity photos. They will all come but a little later because they all have to come to our computer centre, Indian Spacecraft and Exploration Mission Data Centre. From there, scientists will take and do a huge amount of valuation.”
On the condition of Vikram lander and Pragyan rover, the Isro chairman said, “Everthing is working well. Chandrayaan-3 lander and the rover are very healthy and five instruments on board them are working fine. We are hoping that in the days to come, another 10 days remaining (of the lunar day) before September 3, we should be able to complete all the experiments. There are various modes for which it has to do different tests. The rover also has to test different sites because it has to do mineralogical tests so it has to move around and do different experiments.”
On Sunday, Isro posted the first observations from a payload onboard Vikram lander called ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment). The agency said it “measures the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil around the pole, to understand the thermal behaviour of the moon’s surface. It has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism capable of reaching a depth of 10 cm beneath the surface. The probe is fitted with 10 individual temperature sensors”. Showing a graph, Isro says it “illustrates the temperature variations of the lunar surface/near-surface at various depths, as recorded during the probe’s penetration. This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole. Detailed observations are underway.” The payload was developed by a team led by the Space Physics Laboratory (SPL) in collaboration with PRL, Ahmedabad.
On the progress of the Gaganyaan mission, Somanath said, “For Gaganyaan too, we have the same team. I don’t have an Aditya team, Chandrayaan team or a Gaganyaan team. We have the same team. They will do their cutting-edge work. With this confidence (of the Moon mission success), we hope to do better with the Gaganyaaan mission,” he said.