Today's (Aug. 24) Google Doodle celebrates the successful landing of India's Chandrayaan-3 mission near the lunar south pole.
The Google Doodle illustrates Chandrayaan-3's touchdown on the moon, depicting the Vikram lander deploying the Pragyan rover onto the lunar surface. Earth looks proud of its accomplishment in successfully landing the spacecraft, while the moon seemingly relishes the companionship.
"Congratulations to the Chandrayaan-3 space mission! We're over the moon for you!" states the Doodle statement.
The historic touchdown marks a significant moment in the history of space exploration. As of Chandrayaan-3's successful landing, only four countries have made a soft landing on the lunar surface: China, the former Soviet Union, the United States and now India. "This success belongs to all of humanity and it will help moon missions by other countries in the future," India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech following the landing.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) mission is comprised of a lander called 'Vikram' ("valor") and a solar-powered rover named Pragyan (Sanskrit for "wisdom"). The pair will spend one lunar day (about 14 Earth days) exploring the lunar south pole with the aim of collecting scientific data about the moon, ranging from measuring thermal conductivity and temperature on the surface to detecting moonquakes and looking for elements in the lunar soil and rocks.
The moon's south pole is a largely uncharted region thought to harbor large quantities of water ice which, if accessible, could be mined for rocket fuel and life support for future crewed missions. India's initial effort to achieve a lunar landing took place in September 2019; however, this attempt was unsuccessful as the Chandrayaan-2 lander crashed into the moon due to a software malfunction.