India's Moon rover begins exploring near lunar South Pole after successful landing

India's Chandrayaan-3 mission is the first to bring a rover and lander to the Moon's South Pole region. The Pragyan rover is now operating on the lunar surface.

NEW DELHI – On the heels of a successful Moon landing, India's Chandrayaan-3 mission continues to meet new milestones Thursday after the rover named Pragyan rolled out onto the lunar South Pole region.

The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) mission successfully soft-landed near the lunar South Pole on Wednesday, becoming the fourth country to land a mission on the Moon and the first to land near the South Pole.

Chandrayaan-3 consists of a lunar lander, called Vikram, and a small rover, named Pragyan. 

ISRO said in an update Pragyan rolled down the ramp from the lander and is now roving on the Moon. Three instruments on the lander were turned on, and all systems are normal, according to ISRO.

"The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the Lander and India took a walk on the Moon," ISRO posted. 

Chandrayaan-3 is a comeback story for India after its first attempt to land on the Moon with the Chandrayaan-2 mission ended with the lander crash-landing in 2019. However, the spacecraft continues to send data, according to the ISRO.

The excitement from India's successful Moon landing continued Thursday with a Google Doodle celebrating the historic achievement and the science community still buzzing about the mission.

The Times of India reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit ISRO in Bengaluru on Friday to congratulate the Chandrayaan-3 science and engineering team. About 6,000 people are expected to greet him at the airport when he arrives, according to the Times. 

ISRO released a video taken by the spacecraft just before touchdown with the lander imager camera showing the shadowed craters near the South Pole. 

The Moon's South Pole is an unexplored area of the lunar surface believed to contain water ice, which could be harvested to create fuel and resources for further space exploration. NASA plans to land astronauts there as part of the Artemis program in 2025.