India made history on two fronts this week: it became the fourth country to land on the moon and the first to approach the south pole of Earth’s natural satellite.
Thus, it has surpassed Russia, whose mission to achieve a similar goal ended in failure. But why are these two countries – and they are not the only ones – so focused on the south pole of the moon?
After being somewhat eclipsed by Mars, the Moon has again attracted attention in the past decade. In addition to scientific reasons, this renewed interest also has geopolitical factors.
While the moon still holds many mysteries that scientists hope to uncover, exploration of the moon gives countries the opportunity to prove their dominance.
They want to prevent the Americans from letting loose, as they intend to set foot on the moon again. This is why Russia, China, India, Japan and even Europe are doing everything they can to explore the moon. This takes place in a context where the idea of a lunar base seems less like science fiction. The potential exploitation of lunar mines and other missions to Mars also looks increasingly realistic.
But why Antarctica specifically?
Although it has already been proven that there is water on the moon, a NASA probe launched in 2009 discovered ice on the moon. And it is precisely this south pole that – thanks to the specific characteristics of the craters there – has the highest concentration of water ice on the Moon.
Why is this so important? Scientists hope that these ancient ice sheets will contain important information about the history of the moon. It may even contain material brought in by comets and asteroids.
In addition, water, even in the form of ice, is an essential resource for many purposes, including lunar exploration. There must be enough water to achieve these applications.
But more importantly, water can be broken down to produce hydrogen and oxygen fuels. These essential resources are of great importance for establishing colonies or future missions to Mars.
These theories have not yet been proven. This is why there is so much interest in the lunar south pole. but this is not all. Landing in this specific area also shows that you are stronger than your competitors.
Why didn’t we land there sooner?
Getting to the South Pole is no small feat. Several attempts to land on this part of the moon have failed. The failure of the Russian Luna 25 mission is just one example. Because of the large number of craters and deep trenches in this part of the moon, landing at the South Pole is very complicated and dangerous. (du)
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