Photos: India’s Chandrayaan-3 Orbiter Snaps Images of Moon’s Far Side Ahead of Landing
18:21 GMT 22.08.2023 (Updated: 19:48 GMT 22.08.2023)
To prepare for its scheduled landing on the Moon’s south pole on Wednesday, India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft has snapped new, high-definition photos of the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-3 is set to deploy its Vikram lander early on Wednesday morning, which will attempt to touch down near the Moon’s South Pole just days after Russia’s Luna 25 probe.
The four photos were published on the X social media site by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s space agency.
The crisp black-and-white photos were snapped by the "hazard detection and avoidance" camera as Chandrayaan-3 entered its lowest lunar orbit yet, reaching just 25 kilometers of altitude at its lowest point. They are of the Moon’s far side, which never faces the Earth due to tidal locking.
"This camera that assists in locating a safe landing area - without boulders or deep trenches - during the descent is developed by ISRO at SAC," ISRO said.
Vikram also carries a rover called Pragyan, both of which have a battery life of 14 Earth days, or one lunar day.
If the landing attempt is successful, India will be the first nation to put a spacecraft on the lunar south pole and the fourth country overall to achieve a soft landing on the Moon after the United States, Soviet Union, and People’s Republic of China.
India previously landed its Chandrayaan-1 probe on the Moon in 2008, although that was a deliberate crash-landing. Chandrayaan-2 also crashed into the Moon in 2019, although that was due to an error during an attempted soft landing, also on the lunar south pole.
Just days before Vikram’s scheduled landing, Russia’s Luna 25 probe also attempted to touch down in the Moon’s south pole region, but crashed after encountering
an unexpected problem. A lunar lander dispatched by a private Japanese company, ispace, also crashed onto the Moon
this past May due to a computer glitch.
Right on the heels of Luna 25 and Chandrayaan-3, however, is the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), built by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which will blast off from Tanegashima Space Center on Friday. SLIM could be Japan’s first soft lunar landing, but it will be in Shioli Crater, near the lunar equator on its near side, not near the poles.