India has become the first country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon’s south pole. The Chandrayaan-3 landed on the surface at approximately 13:32 BST on 23 August, just days after the Russian attempt ended in a crash.

India is now the fourth country to have achieved a lunar landing, following in the footsteps of the USA, China and the former Soviet Union.

The landing on the moon’s south pole is significant as the region’s shadowed craters potentially contain frozen water that could provide insights into past lunar volcanoes and the origins of Earth’s oceans. It would also help make a permanent lunar base for humans a reality as the water could be used for fuel, oxygen and drinking water, enabling astronauts and scientists to work there for extended periods.

Speaking immediately after the successful landing, prime minister Narendra Damodardas Modi said, “This is the efforts of the whole country of India, this is the energy of new India. We have conquered the oceans of difficulties and we have won.”

The spacecraft, whose name means ‘moon vehicle’ in Hindi and Sanskrit, will run a series of experiments over the next two weeks, including a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

Image: Indian Space Research Organisation

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