Bengaluru: With a billion and more Indians waiting for the historic Moonwalk by a Made-in-India probe, space scientists are holding their nerve to accomplish the feat in the wee hours, Saturday.
Landing of 'Vikram' and the walk by rover 'Pragyan' are crucial as both will attempt to tread on uncharted territory-a region close to the South Pole of Earth's natural satellite. The landing will happen between 1:30 am and 2:30 am and the walk, albeit at snail's pace, will commence at 5:30 am, both big moments for the nation as only three countries have succeeded in touching down on lunar soil-the United States, Russia and China, but none in the South Pole region.
This region is of interest to scientists because of the possibility of water ice being there. That could be useful for moon habitation and for making fuel for exploring Mars. Scientists also want to look for deposits of helium-3, potentially a future energy source for Earth. The lander and rover are programmed to operate for a couple of weeks. They carry instruments that can determine the composition of Moon rocks and make other measurements. And, riding on the homegrown mission are hopes of a country which has constantly asserted its technological prowess on the global stage, all on shoe-string budgets.