The moon has been always an object of wonder and mystery since ancient time. Scientific missions over the centuries have peeled away layers of that mystery but the moon continues to harbour many secrets. Missions to the moon have been conducted by the Soviet Union (Russia), United States, European Space Agency, Japan, India, China and Israel. The physical exploration of the moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union (Russia), made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to this only available means of exploration had been observed from the earth. The invention of the optical telescope brought about the first leap in the quality of lunar observations. Galileo Galilei is generally was the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes. He made his own telescope in 1609. His first observations by using it include the mountains and craters on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the mission is planned to be launched to the moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. It includes a lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all developed by India. Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft-land a lander and rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south. If successful, Chandrayaan-2 will be the first mission to land a rover near the lunar south pole. Chandrayaan-2 will make India the 4th country in the world to land on the moon, a feat achieved only by the US, the Soviet Union and China till now. On May 1, 2019, the ISRO announced a July 9 -July 16 launch window for India’s second moon mission with plans to land on the lunar surface on September 6. After this, India will go ahead to send first Indian on the moon. In the exploration of the moon, India is nearly 50 years back to the United States as they are planning to send the first woman on the moon while in near future we are going to send first Indian on the moon.
Recently the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence announced that the first woman to land on the moon will be an American. In his address to the Satellite 2019 Conference Mike Pence said that at the President Donald Trump’s direction, the United States would return to the moon within the next five years. The first woman and the next man on the moon will be Americans. He said that we will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil into space before the year ends.
It is worth mentioning that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. He was a NASA astronaut and an American citizen. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 mission, on 13 September 1959.
Mike Pence said, “That’s why we assembled this Users’ Advisories Group in the National Space Council. I’m proud to say that this has brought together some of the brightest minds and biggest talents in the country to help accelerate innovation across the space enterprise. More than 15,000 scientists and industry representatives from 105 countries, including India, are attending the four-day mega event which began on May 6 in Washington DC.
The timeline of humanity’s exploration of the moon highlights some of the major milestones dating back four centuries:
1609: Hans Lippershey invented the telescope.
1610: Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei made the first telescopic observation of the moon.
1610: Thomas Harriot and Galileo Galilei drew the first telescopic representation of the moon.
1645: Michael Florent van Langren made the first map of the moon.
1647: Johannes Hevelius published the first treatise devoted to the moon.
1651: Giovanni Battista Riccioli named craters after philosophers and astronomers.
1753: Roger Joseph Boscovich proved the moon has no atmosphere.
1824: Franz von Gruithuisen thought craters were formed by meteor strikes.
1920: Robert Goddard suggested sending rockets to the moon.
1959: Soviet spacecraft Luna 2 reached the moon, impacting near the crater Autolycus.
1961: President John F. Kennedy proposed a manned lunar program.
1964: NASA’s Ranger 7 produced the first close-up TV pictures of the lunar surface.
1966: Soviet spacecraft Luna 9 made the first soft landing on the moon.
1967: NASA’s Lunar Orbiter missions completed photographic mapping of the moon.
1968: NASA’s Apollo 8 made the first manned flight to the moon, circling it 10 times before returning to Earth.
1969: Apollo 11, mission made the first landing on the moon and returned samples.
1969: (Nov.) Apollo 12 made the first precision landing on the moon.
1972: Apollo 17 made the last manned landing of the Apollo Program.
1976: Soviet Luna 24 returned the last sample to be returned from the moon (to date).
1990: NASA’s Galileo spacecraft obtained multispectral images of the western limb and part of the far side of the moon.
1994: NASA’s Clementine mission conducted multispectral mapping of the moon.
1998: NASA’s Lunar Prospector mission launched.
2007: Japanese SELENE (Kaguya) spacecraft launched.
2007: Chinese Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter launched.
2008: Indian Chandrayaan 1 moon orbiter launched.
2009: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched.