India’s moon rover, following its historic lunar landing nearly a week ago, has confirmed the presence of sulfur and detected various other elements near the moon’s south pole, as reported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).
Using its laser-induced spectroscope instrument, the rover also identified aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon on the lunar surface.
The Chandrayan-3 Rover was deployed from the lander of India’s spacecraft following last week’s touchdown near the moon’s south pole. The rover’s mission includes a 14-day period for conducting experiments, according to Isro.
Isro indicated that the rover has “unambiguously confirmed the presence of sulfur” while actively seeking signs of frozen water, which could be invaluable for future astronaut missions, serving as a potential source of drinking water or as a means to produce rocket fuel. Additionally, the rover will explore the moon’s atmosphere and seismic activity, in line with the objectives outlined by Isro Chairman S. Somnath.
On Monday, the rover’s path was adjusted when it approached a 4-meter-wide crater, and Isro has assured that it is now safely following an alternate route.
Moving at a slow pace of approximately 10 centimeters per second, the vehicle is taking precautions to minimize potential damage resulting from the moon’s rough terrain.
This achievement comes after India’s unsuccessful moon landing attempt in 2019, and it further establishes India’s growing reputation as a technology and space powerhouse. This success aligns with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who seeks to position India as an ascendant nation asserting itself among the global elite.
The mission, which began over a month ago and was estimated to cost $75 million, reflects India’s dedication to space exploration. Notably, this accomplishment follows Russia’s Luna-25 mission, which aimed for the same lunar region but experienced an uncontrolled orbit and crash landing. Russia’s last successful lunar landing dated back 47 years, with the failure attributed to a lack of lunar research expertise resulting from the long hiatus in lunar missions since 1976.
India’s involvement in space exploration dates back to the 1960s, encompassing satellite launches for both domestic and international clients. The country achieved a significant milestone in 2014 when it successfully placed a satellite in orbit around Mars. Furthermore, India is preparing for its inaugural mission to the International Space Station, set for launch next year in collaboration with the United States.