Scientist claims India did not land on the moon’s South Pole
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Featured Image Credit: Indian Space Research Organization/ Getty stock
A Chinese scientist has refuted India's claims that it landed on the moon's South Pole.
Last month, the country made global news after it landed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft near the lunar South Pole.
While India is only the fourth country to have carried out a successful moon landing, it's the first to have made it to the south side of the planet.
Speaking after the landing, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was an 'unforgettable moment'.
"It is phenomenal. This is a victory cry of a new India," he said. "India is now on the moon. India has reached the south pole of the moon - no other country has achieved that. We are witnessing history."
But top Chinese scientist Ouyang Ziyuan - who was chief scientist on China's first lunar mission - has rained on India's parade and claimed that the country was nowhere near to the Pole.
Speaking to Chinese-language newspaper Science Times, Ziyuan said that India's rover is sitting at 69 degrees south latitude, a considerable distance from the South Pole.
It's said that the lunar South Pole sits at 88.5 and 90 degrees.
With this in mind, he's refuted their claims of landing there and thinks the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is around 619km off from the polar region.
"It's wrong," he said. "The landing site of Chandrayaan-3 is not at the lunar South Pole, not in the lunar South Pole region, nor is it near the lunar South Pole region."
Ziyuan went on to boast about China's space programme being 'more advanced'.
He insisted that their programme 'has been capable of sending orbiters and landers directly into Earth-Moon transfer orbit since the launch of Chang’e-2 in 2010, a manoeuvre that India has yet to deliver given the limited capacity of its launch vehicles'.
The 87-year-old added: "The engine that China used is also far more advanced."
In images taken by NASA, the space station confirmed that Chandrayaan-3's landing point was around 600km away from the South Pole.
While it's up for debate whether India actually landed in the South Pole region, the country has still made history as being the one to landed on the most southern point of the moon.
As to why it's so difficult to land there, 'the shadowy nature of the lunar south pole that helps preserve water ice means a soft landing there is tricky', writes Space.com.
The South Pole is also heavily cratered and poorly lit, adding to landing difficulties.