India's Chandryaan-3 photographs dark side of Moon ahead of landing attempt

The lander module will try to touchdown softly on August 23

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An Indian spacecraft has photographed the dark side of the Moon ahead of its highly anticipated landing attempt on Wednesday.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission includes the Vikram landing module, which has been getting closer to the surface each day on its voyage.

India launched the mission on July 14, and the spacecraft has performed manoeuvres to prepare the lander for touchdown in the south pole at 4.34pm UAE time. It will be the first time the area will be explored.

On Saturday, it beamed back photos from orbit.

"Here are the images of lunar far side area captured by the Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera," the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

"This camera that assists in locating a safe landing area - without boulders or deep trenches - during the descent is developed by Isro at SAC [Space Applications Centre]."

This will be the third Moon landing attempt within five months. Two have failed.

Russia's Luna-25 spacecraft was meant to touch down on Monday, but crashed into the Moon two days before when a manoeuvre did not go as planned.

Japanese company iSpace attempted to land its Hakuto-R spacecraft, which was carrying the UAE's Rashid rover, in April but it crashed into the surface. A software problem was blamed.

If India does succeed, it will become the fourth country to achieve a soft lunar landing.

Only the US, former Soviet Union and China have been able to softly place landing modules on the surface.

China is the only country that has been able to touch down on the Moon's far side, with its Chang'e-4 landing in January 2019.

India and Israel meanwhile had failed attempts in 2019, in which both spacecraft suffered software problems.

Updated: August 21, 2023, 9:16 AM