Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, today said there is a huge possibility of India’s moon mission finding crucial information about the presence of water there. The Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down on the south pole of the lunar surface today and the rover Pragyan, which will be gathering data and conducting experiments, has also been rolled out.
Mr Hadfield, however, pointed out that these were only preliminaries. “Just a door being safely opened for everything we can set out to try and discover on the moon… now the real work starts,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
The discovery of water molecules in the air in moon’s South Pole by a NASA instrument on Chandrayaan-1 in 2009 had given rise to great excitement in anticipation of future moon missions. Not only can it provide water for drinking but also be broken down to create an oxygen pool on the moon’s surface for future expeditions.
Asked about the matter, Mr Hadfield said, “The Chandrayaan-3 and Vikram lander have landed in the south, 70 degrees south. On Earth it would have been on the shore of Antarctica. That’s how far south they are. In the shadows of the moon that’s where the water can stay permanently”.
“We have never been to this part of the moon… So the opportunity of discovery is very high,” he said.
“Every single mission gives us a little more information… It will be interesting to see what India, the Indian people and (space agency) ISRO chooses to do next,” he added.
Asked whether India’s next target should be building a space station, Mr Hadfield, who is also a former commander of the International Space Station, said it depends on the country’s priorities.
India’s goals, he said, could be building a spaceship and sending its own citizens to space, collaborating with the Artemis Space station.
ISRO chief S Somnath, in the euphoric moments after the Chandrayaan-3 landing, said India’s next goal is Gaganyaan — sending a man into space. “We are targeting to have it on September or in the first week of October,” he told reporters.
The Pragyan Rover will collect information for the next 14 days – equal to one moon day. As the night on the moon begins, the solar-powered equipment is likely to shut down.