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A Michael Jackson ‘act’ & ramp walk – India’s rover rocks on the moon

India’s moon rover did a Michael Jackson ‘act’ on the lunar surface after walking down on the ramp!

Well, it did a ‘moonwalk’ after slowly rolling down on the moon lander’s ramp, the Indian space agency said.

Moonwalk is a dance move that became very popular after Michael Jackson did it during the performance of the song ‘Billie Jean’ on ‘Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever’.

The lander – part of the Chanrayaan-3 spacecraft – had landed safely near the moon’s south pole on Wednesday in a text book style.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had said: “Chandrayaan-3 ROVER: Made in India Made for the MOON! The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the Lander and India took a walk on the moon!”

While the rover did its moonwalk on Thursday, ISRO released the much awaited video on Friday.

In the video, taken by one of the lander cameras – India’s first lunar selfie – the rover with its solar panel deployed could be seen slowly going down the ramp, touching the moon soil and moving forward.

One can also see the rover’s wheel imprint on the lunar soil as well as the shadow of the rover with the solar panel.

In another post on X, ISRO said: “A two-segment ramp facilitated the roll-down of the rover. A solar panel enabled the rover to generate power.”

The Indian space agency also posted the video of the ramp and solar panel deployment prior to the rover rolling down.

“The deployment mechanisms, totalling 26 in the Ch-3 mission, were developed at U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC)/ISRO, Bengaluru,” ISRO said.

The space agency had earlier posted: “Lander Module payloads ILSA, RAMBHA and ChaSTE are turned ON today (Thursday). Rover mobility operations have commenced. All activities are on schedule. All systems are normal.”

According to ISRO, on Sunday, the propulsion module payload SHAPE was turned on.

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft comprises a propulsion module (weighing 2,148 kg), a lander (1,723.89 kg) and a rover (26 kg).

With the landing, a major portion of the Rs 600 crore Chandrayaan-3 mission has been realised.

The remaining portion is the moon rover moving around and doing the programmed experiments.

According to ISRO, the moon rover has Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) for deriving the elemental composition in the vicinity of the landing site.

On its part, the lander too will carry out the tasks assigned to it with its payloads: Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature; Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) for measuring the seismicity around the landing site; RAMBHA Langmuir Probe (LP)  to estimate the plasma density and its variations. A passive Laser Retroreflector Array from NASA is accommodated for lunar laser ranging studies.

The mission life of the lander and the rover is one Lunar day or 14 Earth days, ISRO said.

“The  rover rolled down onto the moon surface from the lander sometime around 12.30 a.m. on Thursday. It is moving around. It is leaving its imprint on the moon’s surface,” S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), had told IANS.

The logo of  ISRO and the national emblem have been engraved on the wheels of the rover to leave the imprint when it moves around.

Unnikrishnan said the rover will collect samples of the moon and do the experiments and send the data to the lander.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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