Chandrayaan-3's Vikram lander performed yet another soft landing when it successfully underwent a hop test on the lunar surface.
On Monday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) shared the update where it said that on command, the Vikram lander fired its engines, elevated itself by about 40 cm as expected and landed safely at a distance of 30 – 40 cm away. An accompanying 43-second video showed the lander elevating and landing again, displacing plenty of lunar regolith in doing so.
Isro also explained why this demonstration could be important for future missions. In its post, the space agency said this 'kick-start' enthuses future sample return and human missions. “All systems performed nominally and are healthy,” the space agency said in its post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Lunar samples hold immense scientific value. According to the Nasa website, study of rock and soil samples from the Moon continues to yield useful information about the early history of the Moon, the Earth, and the inner solar system.
Chandrayaan-3 Mission:— ISRO (@isro) September 4, 2023
🇮🇳Vikram soft-landed on 🌖, again!
Vikram Lander exceeded its mission objectives. It successfully underwent a hop experiment.
On command, it fired the engines, elevated itself by about 40 cm as expected and landed safely at a distance of 30 – 40 cm away.… pic.twitter.com/T63t3MVUvI
Isro’s latest ‘hop test’ with the lander is also a crucial bit of demonstration for future crewed missions planned to the Moon, with eventual plans to set up a probable lunar base and continued human presence. The likes of Nasa and other space agencies are working towards such missions.
Earlier this week, Isro had said that Chandrayaan 3's rover 'Pragyaan' had completed its assignments on the lunar surface and was safely parked and set into sleep mode. The rover’s battery was fully charged, the space agency said, with the solar panel oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on the lunar surface later this month on 22 September. “The receiver is kept on... Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments! Else, it will forever stay there as India's lunar ambassador," Isro announced on X.
India made history last month by soft-landing the Vikram lander on the lunar surface on 23 August. This made it only the fourth country to touch the lunar surface – after the US, China and the former Soviet Union -- and the first to ever reach the south pole of the moon.
Isro also launched the Aditya-L1 solar mission earlier this month. This mission aims to study the outer atmosphere of the sun by placing India’s first solar observatory at the Sun-Earth L1 point or Lagrange point 1.
Also read: Isro launches Aditya-L1 solar mission