Chandrayaan-3’s success is a landmark achievement not only in the history of ISRO but in the history of missions to the moon internationally. It is remarkable on two counts. One, while India may be only the fourth country to land successfully on the moon, it is the first to land near the lunar South Polar region at about 70° latitude, roughly 600 km from the lunar South Pole. Two, with the slew of instruments on board the lander/rover module, Chandrayaan-3 has sent valuable data on the concentration of several minerals, sulphur in particular, on the far side of the moon, which seem to differ significantly from what planetary scientists know so far from studies on the near side of the moon.
Of late, there has been a race among the spacefaring nations to land spacecraft in the lunar South Pole region. Indeed, on August 20, just three days before Chandrayaan-3’s lander module landed there, Russia’s Luna-25 mission crashed in its attempt to land near the South Pole. This was Russia’s first attempt since its last trip to the moon in 1976. NASA, as part of its Artemis programme, is aiming for a South Pole landing of its crewed mission in late 2024.
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