India’s landing on the Dark Side of the Moon is Cheered, now Comes the Hard Part of Space Exploration

After India’s successful moon landing, ECE Professors Hanumant Singh and Taskin Padir are excited to see what the future holds for lunar exploration and what role robots will play.


This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cyrus Moulton. Main photo: Journalists film the live telecast of spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landing on the moon at ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network facility in Bengaluru, India, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. India has landed a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, an uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements, as the country cements its growing prowess in space and technology. AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

Cheers erupted across India and congratulations came in from across the world last week as the world’s most populous nation became the first to successfully land a spacecraft on the south polar region of the moon.

Two Northeastern University engineers who use robots in some of the universe’s most unforgiving regions joined in the cheering.

“Everyone’s proud about it — we have a huge population of Indian students, and everyone is really excited about that,” says Hanumant Singh, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern.

Singh, who grew up in India, works on and operates robots used in deep-sea and polar exploration.

headshot of Hanumant Singh (left) and Taskin Padir (right)

Northeastern Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Hanumant Singh (left) and Taskin Padir, director of the Institute for Experiential Robotics and a professor in electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University, discuss the next challenges in lunar exploration. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“It’s a good thing, and I’m psyched in general,” he says.

Taskin Padir, director of the Institute for Experiential Robotics and a professor in electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern, was in a lab with interns when the news came in.

“It was lots of excitement, obviously, and space has this effect on unifying people — space is for humanity,” says Padir, who develops robots for environments including space. “I felt proud for humanity; it was a major achievement.”

But while the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s landing is nothing to dismiss — after all, just a few days prior, a Russian lander crashed on its way to the same region of the moon — now comes an even harder feat.

“Landing is one piece, exploration is the next piece,” Padir says. “How do we explore and how do we establish ourselves on that side of the moon is the next step.”

That exploration is important because of the presence of ice on polar regions of the moon. Scientists are currently trying to figure out how to convert the hydrogen in the ice to fuel that can power spacecraft or even colonies on the moon.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

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