An unmanned spacecraft India launched last month began orbiting the moon Tuesday as it approaches the lunar south pole to study previously discovered water deposits.
The Indian Space Research Organization said it successfully maneuvered Chandrayaan-2, the Sanskrit word for “moon craft,” into lunar orbit, nearly a month after it left Earth. The mission is led by two female scientists.
Chandrayaan will continue circling the moon in a tighter orbit until reaching a distance of about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the moon’s surface.
The mission is on track even though the launch was delayed by a week.
The success rate of landing on the moon is only 37%, ISRO chairman Dr. K. Sivan said in a news conference. When the semi-autonomous lander uses artificial intelligence to land on its own, after matching the landing spot with pre-loaded images of the region, “it’ll be a mix of feeling, of happiness and tension and more anxiety,” Sivan said, likening it to a “bridegroom separated from the parents’ house.”
A rover will study permanently q.
Scientists believe water and mineral deposits could make the moon a good pit stop for further space travel.
“The globe is waiting for our data,” Sivan said.
If India did manage the landing, it would be only the fourth country to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.