NASA’s LRA on Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander will stay on the Moon for a long time to help future missions know exactly the position on Moon.
In the sky near the Moon, a NASA spaceship did something cool. It aimed special laser lights at a small tool on Vikram, and when the lights bounced back, it showed that we can find things on the Moon very precisely.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) by NASA has been circling the Moon since 2009. On a day in December last year, it tried a laser experiment, and just recently, NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shared the results. The laser lights were sent to a little tool called the Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA). It’s a small round thing with eight shiny mirrors that can bounce light in any direction.
The LRA, only 20 grams in weight, was placed on Vikram by NASA just for this test. It’s a smart tool that doesn’t need power or fixing, so it can stay useful for many years. This experiment checked all the gadgets on Vikram and the Pragyaan rover, and they all worked as planned.
Xiaoli Sun, the leader of the team that made the LRA, said, “We showed we can find our tool on the Moon from the space around it. Now, we want to make this a normal thing for future missions using these tools,” according to NASA.
This isn’t the first time a tool like LRA has been on the Moon. The Apollo missions had similar tools, and they still work today. One of them even showed that the Moon is slowly moving away from Earth. The LRA on Vikram is the smallest and most advanced of them all, and it’s the only one near the South Pole of the Moon.
The NASA statement said, “These new small tools have more uses than the big ones. On the International Space Station, they help cargo ships dock by themselves. In the future, they could help guide Artemis astronauts in the dark on the Moon, or show where other spacecraft are so new ones can land safely.”
ISRO mentioned that the LRA on Vikram is built to last for many years. “NASA’s LRA on Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander will stay on the Moon for a long time. It will help future missions know exactly where they are on the Moon and learn more about how the Moon works,” said ISRO.
In a recent try, a private company’s spaceship with an LRA from NASA had some issues and can’t land on the Moon now. But the Japanese SLIM mission, which landed on the Moon recently, also brought a similar tool with it.