Rajat Sharma


akbAugust 23, 2023 shall remain a red-letter day, a day of pride for more than a billion Indians, both in India and across the globe. It was celebration time as ISRO scientists showed to the world that they can deliver. India has become the first nation in the world to reach the south pole of the Moon. It has become the fourth member of the elite lunar club. The landing of Chandrayaan-3 was soft, without a glitch. Everything went according to plan as India left its imprint on the soil of Moon. By midnight, the rover Pragyan rolled out from the lander Vikram, at a speed of one centimetre per second, and on Thursday morning, scientists at the ISRO were elated over this big success. US space agency NASA, European Space Agency and other developed nations while congratulating ISRO have acknowledged India’s scientific capabilities in the fiercely competitive space sector. The entire nation and overseas Indians across the globe watched the final descent of lander Vikram on television and social media on Wednesday. There were shouts of jubilation as the lander touched base. ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogans were chanted and people clapped, with tears of joy in their eyes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had joined the ISRO command centre in Bengaluru via video conferencing from Johannesburg, described the moment as unbelievable and historic. The live telecast was watched by Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow, Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai, Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal and Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur, apart from most of the other chief ministers, top political leaders, judges including Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and others. They were watching history being made. Prime Minister Modi thanked ISRO scientists from the bottom of his heart and said ‘this is a victory cry (vijay ka shankhnaad) of a developed India’. “Today we have watched the new flight of New India in space”, he said. He praised ISRO chairman S. Somnath and said his very name ‘Somnath’ was linked to the Moon. Modi spoke of future endeavours in the making – sending Aditya L-1 to probe the Sun, India’s first manned spaceflight Gaganyaan, and another mission proposed for Venus. Modi was right when he said, “Indians since their childhood have been describing the Moon as ‘Chandamama (Uncle Moon). The Moon is worshipped as a god in India, married Indian women observe Karwa Chauth and break their fast after having a look at the Moon. The sighting of Moon decides when Eid festival will be celebrated. There is widespread belief that a Full Moon night causes changes in the behaviour of human beings, and it causes sea tides too. These beliefs and traditions have been there among the people of India since millenniums. Scientists are conducting research on some of these beliefs. Most of the scientists believe that our Moon had been a part of Earth, millions of years ago. In Indian tradition, however, Earth is worshipped as Mother and the Moon is worshipped as Mama (uncle). Some people have claimed that there is one ‘shloka’ in one of our Puraans in which the exact calculation of the distance between Earth and Moon has been made. ‘Puraans’ (Hindu scriptures) were written several thousand years ago. It makes one proud to know that our ‘rishis’ and ‘munis’ (sages) had information about the cosmos thousands of years ago, some of which have now been proved to be correct. Chandrayaan’s success puts us in the group of other two big nations. India has become the second nation to land on the Moon in the last decade. China achieved this feat four years ago. In the past ten years, five countries tried to land on the Moon. While India and China succeeded, Russia, Japan and Israel failed. Private companies of Israel and Japan had sent lunar probes. On August 26, a spacecraft of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will try again to land on the Moon. The question now is, what next? What will be the next Moon mission from India? My information is that the next Moon mission from India will not be named Chandrayaan. It will be a joint India-Japanese lunar mission LUPEX(Lunar Polar Exploration Mission) in 2024-25. The final details are yet to be announced. It could be an uncrewed lunar lander and rover which will probe the south pole of the Moon.

Get connected on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Comments are closed.