New Delhi: The moon rover of India's Chandrayaan-3 exited the spacecraft on Thursday morning to begin its exploration of the lunar surface, the country's space agency said on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The spacecraft landed on the unexplored south pole of the moon on Wednesday evening, making India the first country to achieve this feat.
The rover, named Pragyan - "Wisdom" in Sanskrit - rolled out of the lander hours after the latest milestone in India's ambitious but cut-price space programme sparked huge celebrations across the country.
The six-wheeled, solar-powered rover will amble around the relatively unmapped region and transmit images and scientific data over its two-week lifespan.
"The Ch-3 Rover ramped down from the Lander and India took a walk on the moon!" the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in its message.
“The rover rolled down onto the moon surface from the lander sometime around 12.30 a.m. Thursday. It is moving around. It is leaving its imprint on the moon's surface,” Dr. S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) told IANS.
The logo of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the national emblem have been engraved on the wheels of the rover to leave the imprint when it moves around.
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According to Unnikrishnan, the solar panels of the rover and that of the lander have been deployed.
He said the rover will collect samples of the moon and do the experiments and send the data to the lander.
Chandrayaan-3 has a cost of $74.6 million - far lower than many missions from other countries and a testament to India's frugal space engineering.
Experts say India can keep costs low by copying and adapting existing technology, and thanks to an abundance of highly skilled engineers who earn a fraction of their foreign counterparts' wages.
In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to put a craft into orbit around Mars and plans to send a probe towards the sun in September.
ISRO is slated to launch a three-day crewed mission into Earth's orbit by next year.
It also plans a joint mission with Japan to send another probe to the Moon by 2025 and an orbital mission to Venus within the next two years.