Chandrayaan 2 will make its highly anticipated landing on the lunar south pole of the Moon today. This is the second mission to the Moon by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In 2008, ISRO launched the Chandrayaan 1 mission to the moon successfully. India will be the fourth country in the world to successfully accomplish a soft landing on the lunar surface, with Chandrayaan 2, but it will be the first country in the history of mankind to attempt a landing on the lunar south pole. While we wait for this iconic moment to take place soon, let's rewind and learn some interesting trivia.
Launched on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 was the space mission that successfully landed the first men on the surface of the Moon. NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin were the first humans to reach its surface. This was one of the most significant moments in the history of humankind. When the preparations for Apollo 11 began, NASA began to collect mementos that would be placed on the surface of the Moon, after it landed. These mementos were apparently kept with the hope that they will be encountered by an extra-terrestrial being someday.
Neil Armstrong carried along with him a piece of wood to space from Wright Brothers' 1903 Wright Flyer's left propeller and fabric of the wing. Along with other mementos, the Apollo 11 crew also carried along with them a lunar plaque that bore the signatures of the crew and the then president of the United States, Richard Nixon. There was also a silicon disk that was about the size of the US dollar coin. Inscribed in the disk were congratulatory messages from 73 heads of states, including the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Here's here message, as mentioned in the official NASA document from the landing:
"On this unique occasion when man traverses outer space to set foot on Earth's nearest neighbor, Moon, I send my greetings and good wishes to the brave astronauts who have launched on this great venture. I fervently hope that this event will usher in an era of peaceful endeavor for all mankind."
The silicon disk still exists on the surface of the moon to this date. Chandrayaan 2 will aim to mark the historic feat of landing on the lunar south pole. The landing is expected to take place around 1:30 am IST. Catch all updates on the Chandrayaan 2 mission right here.