2023: India's Stellar Leap in Lunar and Solar Space Missions

06:27 PM Dec 29, 2023 | Team Udayavani |

On August 23, nationwide celebrations erupted as Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed in the uncharted south pole region of the Moon. This achievement placed India in the prestigious group of nations that have accomplished a soft lunar landing, a feat previously achieved only by the US, the Soviet Union, and China.


Throughout the year, India maintained its momentum in space exploration. The country launched an observation mission to the Sun and conducted an important test flight in preparation for its ambitious manned space mission planned for 2025.

Reflecting on the year, it’s clear that India’s significant advancements in space exploration captured the world’s attention.

The Moon

For the team at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the descent of the Vikram lander, which carried the Pragyaan rover, to the Moon’s surface was a nerve-wracking “20 minutes of terror.” The lander had to reduce its speed from 1.68 kilometers per second to nearly a standstill to achieve a soft landing in the Moon’s challenging south pole region, known for its uneven terrain, craters, and boulders.


ISRO’s head, S Somanath, triumphantly declared “India is on the Moon,” marking a historic moment for the country.

In the following ten days, space scientists and the Indian population keenly observed every action of the lander and rover. They closely monitored the data and images sent back to Earth, analyzing this valuable information from the lunar surface.

Looking at the Sun

Images captured the moment when the six-wheeled rover emerged from the Vikram lander and embarked on its journey across the Moon’s terrain. Moving at a cautious pace of 1 centimeter per second, it covered a distance of over 100 meters (328 feet), carefully navigating and sometimes altering its path to avoid lunar craters.

The rover’s discoveries, particularly the notable differences in temperature immediately above and below the lunar surface and the detection of various chemicals, including sulphur, in the soil, have excited both space scientists and the broader scientific community.

ISRO expressed pride in the mission, stating that it not only achieved its objectives but surpassed them.

” Aditya L1: India’s Maiden Solar Exploration “

The orbiter, equipped with seven scientific instruments, is tasked with observing and analyzing various layers of the Sun. These include the solar corona, which is the outermost layer; the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun as seen from Earth; and the chromosphere, a layer of plasma situated between the photosphere and the corona.

According to ISRO, the research conducted will enhance understanding of solar phenomena like solar winds and flares, as well as their impact on Earth and space weather, with real-time insights.

The agency has already begun sharing scientific data collected by the orbiter. Additionally, images captured by the orbiter’s camera have garnered millions of views on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

” India’s Pioneering Space Odyssey “

The central aim of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was addressed with the launch of the Gaganyaan spacecraft on October 21, marking the beginning of several test flights leading up to the ambitious manned space mission scheduled for 2025.

India intends to send three astronauts into a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometers for a duration of three days. ISRO’s chief, Mr. Somanath, has emphasized that Gaganyaan is their top priority at the moment.

He articulated their primary objective as successfully sending an Indian astronaut into space and ensuring their safe return, describing it as their most significant immediate goal.

The October test flight aimed to test the crew escape system in the event of a rocket malfunction.

After ascending approximately 12 kilometers, the rocket’s emergency abort mechanism was triggered. This activated a sequence of parachutes, safely guiding it to a landing in the Bay of Bengal. Indian Navy divers then recovered it from the water.

Following the success of this test, ISRO announced plans to first dispatch a female humanoid, a robot designed to resemble a human, on an unmanned Gaganyaan mission. This step precedes their ultimate goal of sending astronauts into space.


Girish Linganna
Aerospace & Defence Analyst


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