“Aditya,” the lunar probe from India’s first unmanned moon mission Chandrayaan-1 has landed on the moon and started sending its first images. Its landing on the Moon’s South Pole at 7:10 Pacific Time was aimed to kick up some dust, which instruments in the craft will analyze. It has already started sending images to the mother ship according to the Indian Space Research Organization.
The 80 pound probe,with the Indian flag painted on its four outer sides carried three scientific instruments: a radar altimeter to keep track of the probe’s altitude as it made its descent, a video imaging system to take pictures once on the surface and a mass spectrometer to identify the particles the lander kicks up when it lands.
A principal objective is to look for Helium 3, an isotope which is very rare on earth but is sought to power nuclear fusion and could be a valuable source of energy in the future. It is thought to be more plentiful on the moon, but still rare and very difficult to extract.