News Brief

Chandrayaan-3 Rover Discovers Small Lunar Rocks, ISRO's Next Mission Can Bring Sample From Moon

Swarajya Staff

Jul 02, 2024, 02:53 PM | Updated 02:53 PM IST

Chandrayaan-3 lander on the Moon as an anaglyph
Chandrayaan-3 lander on the Moon as an anaglyph

India's moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, recently had a notable encounter on the lunar surface near its landing site.

The Pragyan rover, operated by the Vikram lander, discovered small rock fragments scattered around the rim, wall slopes, and floor of small craters at the southern high-latitude landing site.

These findings could significantly advance lunar exploration, supporting previous studies that suggested a gradual coarsening of rock fragments within the lunar regolith as per a report by NDTV.

The 27-kilogram Pragyan rover, carried under the Vikram lander, was equipped with cameras and instruments to analyse the lunar soil. It also proudly displayed the ISRO logo and the Indian tricolor flag on the lunar surface.

As the rover navigated around 39 meters west of the landing site, named Shiv Shakti Point by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the number and size of rock fragments increased. The probable source of these rock fragments is a nearly 10-meter diameter crater.

Presented earlier this year at the International Conference on Planets, Exoplanets, and Habitability in Ahmedabad, the paper proposed that this crater excavated and redistributed the rock fragments west of the landing site.

These fragments were buried multiple times by the lunar regolith overturning mechanism and eventually exposed by the small craters encountered by the Pragyan rover. Two of the rock fragments showed signs of degradation, indicating they had been subjected to space weathering.

Recently, ISRO chief S Somanath stated that with the next moon mission, Chandrayaan-4, the space agency aims to bring back a lunar sample from the 'Shiv Shakti' point.

India made history on 23 August 2023, with the Chandrayaan-3 mission, becoming the first country to land near the lunar south pole and the fourth to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface, following the US, the former Soviet Union, and China.

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