India has officially landed on the moon. Today, the Indian Space Research Organisation advanced its first deep space mission, Chandrayaan-1, by releasing its Moon Impact Probe, which successfully crash landed near the moon’s south pole and opened an exciting new chapter in Asia’s space exploration.ISRO reports that at 8:31 pm Indian Standard Time, the Moon Impact Probe performed its “suicide nosedive” onto the moon’s surface. The probe carries a radar altimeter, video imaging system, and a mass spectrometer, which transmits images and data from its landing and stay on the moon to the remote sensing satellite, which will remain in lunar orbit for two years.
But beyond data collection, this represents India’s first toehold in space exploration, and the probe’s decorations reflect that:
The probe had miniature Indian national flags painted on four sides, meant to commemorate the birth of the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru (known as Children's Day). It was to "signify the entry of India on Moon," an ISRO official told the Press Trust of India.
The ISRO has reportedly received images from the probe’s crash, but has not yet released them. [Space.com]