INDIA MAKING HISTORY WITH SPACE EXPEDITIONS
India made history recently with its moon landing that took place on 23rd of August 2023. The lunar lander called Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the moon’s South Pole, a first for any country, although technically speaking India is the fourth nation to land on the moon behind the United States, Russia and China. The landing is also significant as it is the first successful landing since China in 2020. The moon’s South Pole represents an exciting opportunity as it has yet to be explored, and is known to be marked by trenches, craters and plenty of ancient ice. There are many reasons that make the global interest in space exploration potentially beneficial – including global cooperation, investment, research, healthy competition, industry and economic interests, especially around the moon’s natural resources such as helium, water and other elements.
India’s recent moon landing is far from the only space mission currently on the go, in actual fact there are seven other missions currently operating around the moon. Not all moon landings have been successful though – in the last few years, India, Russia, and Japan have all suffered crashes and near misses. Russia’s Luna-25 actually crashed into the moon three days before India’s successful landing. The South Pole is the goal for all of NASA’s 13 candidate landing locations as part of the Artemis program. Water and access to sunlight are some of the biggest draw cards to that side of the moon and they offer the potential to sustain astronauts on missions as well as in the creation of rocket fuel and generation of lunar-based solar power too.
Even more impressively, just days after their historic moon landing, India launched its first observation mission to the sun. The space craft known as Aditya-L1 will travel a staggering 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, which is shockingly only 1% of the distance between Earth and the sun and will take approximately four months. Aditya-L1 takes its name from the Hindu God of the sun, with L1 being representative of the actual spot between the Earth and the sun that the spacecraft is headed to; Lagrange point 1. This spot is super strategic as it is located between the two large gravitational forces of Earth and the sun effectively cancel each other out, which will allow the aircraft to use this to its advantage in order to orbit the sun at the “same rate as the earth” which in turn will allow it to conserve fuel.
The idea behind the mission is critical observation of the sun, which will allow for greater scientific understanding of the anchor of our universe; it will also allow the different space missions to manoeuvre satellites out the way when they run the risk of being impacted by space weather, particularly influenced by the sun.