India is hoping to become the fourth nation make it to the moon when it attempts to land its Chandrayaan-2 robotic spacecraft on Friday afternoon — and you can watch the historic event live.
India launched its mission to the moon in July, with its multiple robotic probes reaching lunar orbit in August. If everything works out well, the lander — which has been named Vikram — will fire up its engine and slowly fall to the moon’s surface at some point between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. PT on Friday, September 6.
India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), expects to begin live coverage of the landing at 12:40 p.m. PT, which you can livestream on YouTube. If the mission is a success, India will join an exclusive club: Only the United States, Russia, and China have landed on the moon so far.
The craft will land in the area of the moon’s south pole, and after a few hours, a rover will begin to explore the region in the hopes of learning more about it. Most importantly, it’s looking for signs of water — most likely ice — in the unexplored area. Along with an orbiter that will remain above the moon, the ISRO expects to operate the Chandrayaan-2 mission about a year.
“Through this effort, the aim is to improve our understanding of the Moon — discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole,” the ISRO wrote about the mission on its website. “These insights and experiences aim at a paradigm shift in how lunar expeditions are approached for years to come — propelling further voyages into the farthest frontiers.”
This is India’s second mission to the moon — the ISRO launched Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008, though that spacecraft remained in orbit and took photos in order to map the lunar surface. If all goes well with Friday’s mission, India plans another mission, Chandrayaan-3, at some point in 2024.
India is the latest country to send a spacecraft to the moon, but it’s not alone. The United States, China, Russia, Japan, and Israel all have their own lunar missions in the works.
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