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Vikram and Pragyan: India's lunar ambassadors, now captured in images by Chandrayaan-2

First ever high-resolution image of Vikram lander and Pragyan rover of Chandrayaan-3 captured by Chandrayaan-2 OHRC
High resolution image of Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-3 and Pragyan rover captured by Chandrayaan-2 OHRC
High-resolution Image of the Vikram Lander of Chandrayaan-3 (outlined in red) and the Pragyan rover (outlined in blue) deployed outside and directly below as captured by the Orbital High Resolution Camera aboard Chandrayaan-2 on March 15, 2024. Credits: ISRO/C.Tungathurthi

Following a successful touchdown at ShivShakti Statio, the Vikram Lander from Chandrayaan-3 deployed its rover, Pragyan, to navigate the cratered lunar surface. Equipped with integrated cameras, Pragyan transmitted video footage of its surroundings and commenced its research tasks, designated for a two-week exploration mission. On August 25, 2023, ISRO reported that Pragyan had covered a distance of 8 meters shortly after deployment. By the conclusion of its mission, the rover had successfully traversed approximately 101 meters.

Pragyan100: Total Path traversed by Pragyan rover in the vicinity of Vikram Lander. Credits: ISRO

Despite the success of their mission, Vikram and Pragyan did not withstand the harsh conditions of the Moon's southern environment and were presumed non-operational, marking them as India's first lunar ambassadors. This outcome contrasts with the SLIM mission, which continues to function successfully, enduring the severe lunar nights in the more temperate equatorial region.

Although ISRO released images of the Vikram lander, the exact location of Pragyan's final resting place remained unclear. Today, for the first time, we can clearly see the little Pragyan positioned right beside Vikram.

The newly released high-resolution image of the landing site, captured on March 15, 2024, showcases significantly greater detail than the initial image shared by ISRO, which was taken just after the landing on August 23, 2023.

This latest image was obtained from a reduced altitude of approximately 65 kilometers, allowing for a resolution of about 17 cm, compared to the initial post-landing image captured at the regular altitude of 100 kilometers with a resolution of 26 cm. The difference in resolution is markedly apparent when observing these two images side by side; details such as the crater contours are exceptionally visible.

This enhanced clarity provides a vivid view of Pragyan, the small Indian rover that has made its 1.5 billion people proud.

High-resolution Image of the Vikram Lander and the Pragyan rover deployed outside and directly below. Credits: ISRO/C.Tungathurthi-

It is now evident that ISRO is advancing its capabilities by capturing the Moon's surface at unprecedented resolution levels of 16-17 cm, achieved by lowering its orbit to 60-65 km—significantly closer than the usual 100 km orbit that offers ~25 cm resolution. I am personally very excited to witness how ISRO is stretching its capabilities beyond already impressive limits.

Looking forward to more stunning images. IM-1, you're next!


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