Watch out, Pragyaan!

Close Call

Last week, India became only the fourth country to ever land on the Moon, with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) proudly announcing its Vikram lander had safely touched down near the Moon's south pole.

It was a treacherous journey from lunar orbit, which many other countries haven't survived — like Russia, whose Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the surface just a week prior.

Yet the lander and its much smaller rover companion Pragyaan, which rolled down a ramp to the surface below shortly after touchdown, are still in a hazardous off-world environment. In fact, the six-wheeled rover recently encountered an obstacle in the form of a ten-foot crater that seemingly threatened to swallow it whole.

Fortunately, ground control spotted the danger before it was too late.

"On August 27, 2023, the Rover came across a 4-meter diameter crater positioned 3 meters ahead of its location," ISRO wrote in a tweet. "The Rover was commanded to retrace the path. It's now safely heading on a new path."

Hole Milk

The update also featured two glorious black-and-white images, one showing the deep and shadowed chasm that seemingly blocks the angled rays of the Sun. A second image shows Pragyaan's rover tracks.

Other than having India join the exclusive club of countries that have landed on the Moon — which also includes the US, the Soviet Union, and China — the country's ongoing Chandrayaan-3 mission also represents the first successful landing near the lunar south pole.

That's particularly exciting, as scientists suspect the region to be rich in water ice, which could make it a key site for future efforts to establish a long term presence on the lunar surface.

In short, let's hope the scientists at the ISRO keep their eyes peeled. Having Pragyaan tumble into a crater could make for a premature end to a groundbreaking mission.

More on the mission: Amazing Footage Shows Indian Rover Ramping Down to the Lunar Surface

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