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  • 1440 Daily Digest

India's Moon Lander Descends

India's space agency confirmed yesterday its lunar lander Chandrayaan-3—Sanskrit for "moon vehicle"—is on track for the nation's first soft landing on the moon this morning, with a touchdown expected around 8:15 am ET (watch livestream). Russia's parallel landing attempt—its first in 47 years—failed Sunday.

If successful, India will become the fourth nation to land a vehicle safely on the lunar surface and the first to do so at the moon's south pole. Interest in the region has grown since researchers discovered evidence of water (see overview) from which future missions could extract crucial hydrogen and oxygen. A small solar-powered robotic rover is expected to operate for two weeks—a lunar day—and conduct tests on the moon's surface chemistry, seismology, and thermal conductivity, before shutting down amid the lunar south pole's extreme cold night. Watch a visual tour of the moon here.

In related news, Japan is slated to launch its moon lander Friday, with a landing scheduled in the next six months.

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