The Lunar South Pole, located between the polar Antarctic and 90 degrees South, has become a significant and vital area. This region can contain water, ice, and other minerals, and it is not primarily explored, unlike the different regions of the moon. Furthermore, certain regions contain resources like oxygen, iron, silicon, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, manganese, titanium, hydrogen, water, and other volatile compounds.. With the resources present, Lunar scientists can trace the solar system's formation.
With the space race taking shape, the question arises: who will be the first to land on the Lunar South Pole Landing? This article aims to analyze the significance of the Lunar South Pole and the countries engaged in its exploration
The Social Talk covered detailed insights into the launch of Chandrayaan-3 that took place on July 14, 2023. This mission fell under the Indian Lunar Exploration Programme or Chandrayaan, and the missions formulated by ISRO. This mission was in succession to the previous failed Chandrayaan-2. According to an article, ISRO's objectives are "to demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on the lunar surface, to demonstrate roving on the moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments" with Chandrayaan-3. It is set to stay for one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days.
Moreover, if India succeeds in this mission, it aims to become the fourth country on the list to have a controlled moon landing. The current update from ISRO's tweet on August 10, 2023, stated the view of the Earth with the Lander Imager (LI) on launch day and the Moon with the Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera (LHVC) one day after lunar orbit. The spacecraft's orbit dropped to 174 km by 1437 km after a maneuvre made on Wednesday.
After a 47-year hiatus, The State Space Corporation, Roscosmos, launched the first moon landing spacecraft 'Luna 25' on Friday, August 11, 2023, four weeks after India. The Times of India stated, "Luna 25 houses specialized instruments meticulously designed for soft lunar landings, soil analysis, and sustained scientific inquiry atop the lunar terrain. Conversely, its Indian counterpart, Chandrayaan-3, features a rover and a lander, each laden with an array of scientific payloads."
This mission includes a lander with a mass of 1,800 kg that will land near the 95 km-wide Boguslawsky crater at the Moon's south pole on August 21, the leading landing site. Luna 25 also carried the European Space Agency's equipment. The backup options near the crater are Manzini and Pentland Crater A. With a payload worth 31kg, the lander will drill lunar samples to analyze lunar soil, study the moon's outer layer and radiation levels, and take pictures of its surroundings over the course of a year, according to Republic World.
Speculations state that Luna 25 will be perched in orbit 100 kilometers off the moon before August 16. It may aim to land at the moon's south pole between August 21 and 23. Russia is using one of the powerful rockets, the Soyuz 2.1, which could help them land on the moon within six to seven days, whereas India's LVM-3 (GSLV MK3) has a relatively lower thrust and less fuel capacity.
India's and Russia's space races constitute different designs with their respective aims, findings, and research objectives.
A detailed article by the Hindustan Times mentioned the fact that other major space power organizations have renewed their interest in the moon. Remarkably, NASA has also perfected its crew for the Artemis human moon exploration program. The missions listed below are scheduled to launch in 2023 and 2024 which would unravel major findings such as communications, regions, resources, study the activities and regions on the Moon.
● Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) is a JAXA (Japan) Lunar Lander due to launch on August 26, 2023, which would focus on accurate landing techniques.
● Intuitive Machines 1 (IM-1) seeks to research smoke surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions and showcase precision landing and communication technologies by launching a NASA CLPS Lunar Lander in 2023.
● The NASA CLPS Lunar Lander will land on Sinus Viscositatis to research thermal characteristics, hydrogen abundance, magnetic field, radiation conditions, the lunar exosphere, and other factors.
● NASA's Lunar Orbiting Small Satellite focuses on analyzing lunar water distribution in connection to geology and orbiting the Moon as part of NASA's SIMPLEx effort on the PRIME-1 CLPS mission. The mission is set to take place in November.
● The purpose of Intuitive Machines 2 (IM-2) is to illustrate the usage of in-situ resources while also measuring the volatile content of subsurface samples.
● Blue Ghost Mission 1 proposes to send ten payloads to the lunar surface to explore smoke surface interactions, heat circulation, and other topics.
● Griffin Mission 1: Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER): During a 100-day mission, NASA's Lunar South Pole rover will seek frozen water and ice in the lunar south pole.
● Intuitive Machines 3 (IM-3): NASA Lunar Landers and Rovers would archive NASA payloads in the Reiner Gamma region to better understand its magnetic and plasma features. The mission entails deploying its rovers and executing surface activities on Earth for around 13 days while transmitting 9.3 GB of data.
● The Chang'e 6-CCNSA (China) Lunar Sample Return Mission is designed to return samples from the moon's south pole, thereby assisting China's ongoing lunar exploration endeavors.
In an overall sense, the space race continues, and all the respective missions aim to analyze, understand, and study the hidden resources of the Moon.
Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe
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