A prominent figure in China’s lunar exploration program, Ouyang Ziyuan, has raised doubts regarding India’s assertion that its lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, successfully landed near the Moon’s South Pole during a historic mission in August. Ouyang’s skepticism challenges India’s celebrated accomplishment.
The Disputed Landing Site of Chandrayaan-3
Ouyang Ziyuan, recognized as a key figure in China’s lunar missions, expressed reservations about Chandrayaan-3’s landing location. According to Ouyang, it is inaccurate to claim that the Indian spacecraft landed in the lunar south pole region. He clarified that the rover touched down at a latitude of approximately 69 degrees south, placing it within the moon’s southern hemisphere but not in the polar region. This interpretation contradicts the widely accepted definition of the lunar south pole, which typically spans from 66.5 to 90 degrees south.
The Debate Over Lunar Polar Regions
The debate over Chandrayaan-3’s landing location extends to the definition of lunar polar regions. Ouyang argued that due to the Moon’s minimal tilt of only 1.5 degrees compared to Earth’s 23.5 degrees, the polar region on the Moon is comparatively smaller. This perspective contrasts with the broader classification of lunar polar regions, as defined by NASA, which extends from 80 to 90 degrees south. The dispute highlights the intricacies of lunar geography and the precise terminology used to describe landing sites on the Moon.
It’s worth noting that NASA Chief Bill Nelson had initially congratulated the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on their “lunar south pole landing” following Chandrayaan-3’s successful mission. However, Ouyang Ziyuan’s perspective introduces a nuanced discussion regarding the geographical specifics of lunar landings and challenges the conventional understanding of lunar polar regions.