Thursday , July 25 2024
Home / World / Race to the Lunar South Pole: What’s Driving the Competition Among Space Agencies for Chandrayaan 3?

Race to the Lunar South Pole: What’s Driving the Competition Among Space Agencies for Chandrayaan 3?

 

Exploring India’s Lunar Ambition: Chandrayaan-3’s Mission to the Moon’s South Pole

On Wednesday evening, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to achieve a remarkable feat with its ambitious third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3. If successful, this mission will mark a significant milestone for India in space exploration, as no country has yet achieved a soft landing on the Moon’s South Pole.

The success of this mission could greatly expand our knowledge about lunar water ice, a valuable resource that holds potential significance on the Moon. Many space agencies and private companies worldwide view this ice as a key element for lunar colonies, moon mining, and potential missions to Mars.

Prospects of Lunar Water As far back as the 1960s, before the first Apollo landing, scientists speculated about the existence of water on the Moon. However, subsequent analyses by Apollo crews in the late 1960s and early 1970s revealed dry samples.

In 2008, researchers from Brown University reexamined these lunar samples using new techniques and found hydrogen inside tiny volcanic glass beads. In 2009, an instrument on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1, developed by NASA, confirmed the presence of water on the lunar surface.

That same year, another NASA team discovered pockets of ice beneath the Moon’s surface. Evidence for water ice’s greatest concentration in shadowed craters at the Moon’s South Pole was first established through NASA’s earlier mission, Lunar Prospector, in 1998.

Significance of Lunar Water Scientists are intrigued by ancient water ice as it could shed light on the origins of Earth’s oceans, as well as substances delivered by comets and asteroids. Sufficient water ice could serve as a potential source of drinking water for future lunar missions and aid in cooling equipment.

Furthermore, this ice could be broken down to produce hydrogen for fuel and oxygen for breathing, potentially aiding missions to Mars or lunar mining endeavors.

Ownership Claims on the Moon The 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty prohibits countries from claiming ownership of the Moon, but it does not prevent commercial exploitation. The Artemis Accords, led by the United States, aim to establish a set of principles for the exploration and utilization of lunar resources, and 27 signatories support it, with China and Russia notably absent.

The Enigmatic Lunar South Pole The Moon’s South Pole remains enigmatic, differing significantly from other regions targeted by space missions worldwide. Despite sending missions, accidents like Russia’s Luna-25 that veered off course upon landing have occurred.

The South Pole, located far from previously targeted equatorial areas, is characterized by craters and deep chasms.

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission holds the promise of making history with a soft landing on the Moon’s South Pole. Meanwhile, both the United States and China have plans for missions to the lunar South Pole.

In conclusion, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission stands as a testament to the nation’s growing ambitions in space exploration. The mission’s success could unlock valuable insights about the Moon’s resources and contribute to future lunar and interplanetary endeavors.