Scientist Denies India’s Claim of Reaching South Pole of the Moon
Chinese scientist Ouyang Ziyuan, known as the “father of China’s lunar exploration program,” has refuted claims by the Indian space agency that its lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, successfully landed at the south pole of the Moon. In an interview with the Chinese magazine Science Times, Ouyang dismissed the assertion as a “big misunderstanding” and clarified the landing site of Chandrayaan-3.
According to Ouyang, Chandrayaan-3 landed at a latitude of 69 degrees south of the Moon, which is the closest point to the south pole ever explored. However, he highlighted that the lunar south pole is much smaller due to the moon’s inclination of the axis, which stands at 1.5 degrees compared to Earth’s tilt axis angle of 23.5 degrees. Therefore, it would be incorrect to claim that the mission landed at the south pole.
Furthermore, Ouyang emphasized another inaccuracy in India’s mission proclamation—the expectation of finding water ice resources. While water ice is a valuable research objective, Ouyang pointed out that the temperature at the lunar south pole craters, where the presence of water is speculated, reaches as low as -220 degrees Celsius. As a result, the excavation of water ice would render machinery inoperable due to freezing.
The Chandrayaan-3 probe successfully landed on August 23 but entered suspension after completing almost 14 days of exploration due to the onset of lunar night, which brings freezing temperatures and darkness that hinder its operation. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been unsuccessful in reestablishing communication with the probe.
Ouyang’s comments shed light on the discrepancies surrounding India’s lunar mission and highlight the need for accurate reporting and understanding of scientific data. As the debate continues, it is crucial for space agencies and scientists to collaborate and share information to enhance our knowledge of the Moon and its potential resources.