Chandrayaan 2 the orbiter spacecraft, is all set to ensure that its Rover, Pragyan, enters the league of global rovers which have successfully explored celestial bodies, sending valuable research material and information back to Earth. As Lander Vikram is all set to make a soft landing on the Moon, it will deploy Pragyan during the wee hours of Saturday, between 1:30-2:30 am.
After the success of Chandrayaan 2, India will join the elite list of nations alongside Russia, USA, and China with Rover Pragyan, being the first Indian rover, made from homegrown technology to move across the celestial body after it is deployed by Lander Vikram. It is also the first rover that will attempt to roam in the unexplored south pole region on the Moon's surface.
The saga began back in November 1970, with the Soviet Union taking the first initiative, by landing rover Lunokhod 1 on the moon, a year after their first attempt to do so. It was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on any celestial body and worked for an impressive period of 11 months.
Not wanting to be left behind, USA included the Lunar Roving Vehicles (LRV) in its last 3 Apollo missions from 1971-1972. Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 saw the successful landing of the LRV, which remained on the moon.
The second Soviet Union unmanned lunar rover became operational in January 1973 and operated for about 4 months.
After a series of unsuccessful and canceled attempts to land a rover on another celestial body, NASA, USA's space agency's initiative Sojourner became the first rover to be successfully deployed on another planet- Mars. It was operational for a period of around 3 months and sent back valuable data on rocks, soil, winds, and other weather factors.
NASA's robotic rover on Mars, it was active from 2004-2010.
NASA's second rover in its Mars Exploration Rover mission, Opportunity, landed 3 weeks after its twin, Spirit, on the other side of the red planet. It was active from 2004-2018 and traveled over 40 km, setting a new record.
The first Chinese Moon mission, robotic lunar rover Yutu, was active for a period of 31 months, setting off a record for the longest rover operational period on the Moon.
NASA landed the robotic rover on the surface of Mars on August 2012, which is currently active. The rover, attempting to answer the age-old human curiosity is searching for evidence of past or present life on Mars.
This Chinese rover successfully landed in January 2019 and is currently exploring the surface of the Moon.
Now, after the successful blast of Chandrayaan 2, Vikram is expected to make a soft landing at 1:53 am on September 7, 2019. In the next course of action, Pragyan will be deployed and will directly communicate its findings to the lander. The rover is envisaged to study geology, including the rocks and the soil in the region, to get an insight into the origin and evolution of Earth's only natural satellite.
Moreover, Pragyan is expected to uncover material from the ancient lunar crust, formed at least 3.8 billion years ago. The region is supposed to be rich in minerals and water. Since no other rover has ever landed on the south pole previously, data from this time period is relatively undiscovered, thus, making Chandrayaan 2 a unique mission.