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The Vikram Lander touched another milestone as it successfully completed the “hop experiment.” The Lander leaped to a height of 40cm and landed safely at 30-40cm distance away, according to ISRO’s intended blueprint.
The “hop experiment” was next to impossible and far away from the scope of the mission’s aim but the success demonstrated that ISRO has the technology to assist future missions to collect and return samples from the Moon to the entire world.
Understanding the “Hop Experiment”
The Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO in an announcement stated that the Vikram lander, which is a crucial part of the Chandryaan-3 mission, successfully completed the “hop experiment” on the lunar surface which exceeded its mission objectives (1).
The safe landing of Vikram 30 to 40cm away is a huge accomplishment boding well for future sample return missions and possibly human moon excursions. The successful execution of the hop experiment showcased the lander’s capacity to move and discover the lunar landscape.
Everything achieved so far is crucial for future missions, not just for India but the entire world, eyeing all the happenings. So, the Vikram Lander has four payloads that are developed to investigate diverse aspects of the lunar environment.
- RAMBHA: To analyze near-surface plasma density
- ChaSTE: To test the thermal characteristics of lunar soil
- ILSA: To monitor the seismic activity around the landing site
- LRA: To help comprehend the dynamics of the lunar ecosystem
Along with the successful execution of the hop experiment, ISRO also noted that all the systems of Vikram Lander are operational and in good shape or in good working order. The success of the hop experiment marked a milestone in India’s space exploration program.
It demonstrates the country’s technological capability and also paved a path for a future full of ambition and lunar expeditions. The world now expects more breakthroughs from this pioneering lunar mission as ISRO continues to read the surface.
Currently, ISRO is focused on analyzing the crucial data relayed back from Vikram Lander. Meanwhile, the Pragyan rover has completed its tasks and is currently in sleep mode with its research instruments wholly shut off (2).
The hop experiment was executed just before going to sleep by the lander using its thrusters momentarily to move by around 40cm closer to the already sleeping Pragyan rover. ISRO said to view the hop as a warm-up for a future sample return.
It is confirmed that ISRO has obtained a variety of readings since the first successful execution of the mission including chemical analysis of the Moon’s surface, the temperature profile of the top 10cm of surface Regolith, and measurements of the tenuous plasma above the Moon’s surface (3).
Moreover, the NASA-led Artemis 3 mission (4) is also in the plan to land on the Moon’s southern pole zone. The water deposits in the persistently shadowed craters make the area ideal for establishing a lunar base.
The water could also be recovered and utilized for drinking and producing oxygen for the astronauts which would significantly lower the cost of maintaining the station. You could also say, India’s feat has embarked a possibility of shifting man to the Moon.