BENGALURU: The Chandrayaan-3 lander Vikram has achieved a significant milestone on the Moon by performing a hop, which could provide valuable insights for future missions aiming to bring back samples. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) stated that the Vikram Lander successfully underwent a hop experiment, firing its engines and elevating itself by about 40cm before landing safely at a distance of 30-40cm away. ISRO also mentioned that all systems performed nominally and are healthy, and the deployed payloads were folded back and redeployed successfully after the experiment.
The exact timing of the hop experiment was not provided by ISRO, but it is believed to have been conducted before the sleep command was enabled on Sunday. Both the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover are currently in sleep mode, with ISRO hoping that they will come back to life on September 22, when the Sun rises again on the Moon.
Since August 23, both Pragyan and Vikram have sent a repository of science data, some of which has been made public by ISRO. Pragyan’s Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectroscope (APXS) have confirmed the presence of sulphur, while Vikram’s Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) has measured the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil. Additionally, Vikram’s Instrument for the Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) recorded a “natural event” on August 26, although the source of the event has yet to be confirmed by ISRO.
Regarding the discovery of sulphur and its implications, ISRO chairman S Somanath stated that sulphur is a volcanic material and has high availability, with potential utility based on earlier global research hypotheses. However, Somanath emphasized that the data collected so far is only preliminary, and further analysis and predictions will be made by the principal investigators.
In conclusion, the Vikram lander’s successful hop experiment on the Moon marks an important achievement for ISRO, providing valuable insights for future missions. The data collected by both the Pragyan rover and the Vikram lander has already contributed to our understanding of the Moon’s composition and geological activity.
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