As the Eastern seaboard of the US goes about its morning commute on Wednesday 23 August, India will be making its second attempt at deploying a rover on the lunar surface.
If successful, Chandrayaan-3‘s Vikram lander will be the first craft to touch down near the Moon‘s south pole, an attractive destination for exploration that could prove perfect for future settlement.
To watch this landmark event, jump on the livestream below.
The actual landing is expected to take place at around 1230 UTC on Wednesday 23 August (that’s 8:30 AM EDT, or 6:00 PM in Indian Standard Time), but to make sure you don’t miss the action, tune in a little bit earlier, as the full broadcast is set to begin 40 minutes before that time.
The attempt comes just days after Russia’s first lunar mission in half a century ended in failure as Roscosmos aimed to land a probe in the same region.
India’s previous mission also met with disaster after the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost contact with the lander on 7 September 2019. The machine’s shattered remains were later discovered just 600 kilometers (about 370 miles) from the lunar south pole.
Thankfully the mission’s orbiter, Chandrayaan-2, remains in the Moon’s orbit, still very much alive and keeping in touch with Vikram.
Should Chandrayaan-3’s lander make it to the surface fully intact, it will finally establish our presence in the cold dust of the Moon’s southern extremity. Numerous studies of the area suggest masses of ice ought to be locked up in its shadows, providing future missions with one less resource to cart into space.
A six-wheeled rover, named Pragyan (‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit) like its lost predecessor, is set to roll slowly over the surface to record the landscape in 3D, mapping the distribution of various elements with its alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and spectroscope and analyzing the conductivity of the underlying geology.