On Aug. 23, India became the first country to land a rover on the south side of the moon when Chandrayaan-3 successfully touched down. Although it didn’t occur in the time of the space age of the 1950s and ‘60s, this was still a historic moment; no one had ever been able to properly explore the mysterious south side of the moon. However, this occurrence was not only a feat for science but one for India as well.
So what is so special about the south side of the moon? One factor relates to what could potentially be found there, a substance that is integral to life: water. Scientists hope that the rover will assist in the discovery of ice, and therefore water, on the moon. The potential for water on the moon is exciting, as water’s components, hydrogen and oxygen, also help comprise rocket fuel. This could allow the moon to function as a refueling station of sorts on the way to Mars. Of course, the potential of achieving this is likely far out in the future, but now we wait for the tiny rover on Chandrayaan-3 to journey around the intriguing lunar southern pole.
However, it is not just science that has benefitted from this feat of space exploration. Space programs have also been associated with developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as former superpowers like the Soviet Union. They are not often associated with the country that is most often linked with yoga and “Slumdog Millionaire.” While this doesn’t mean that India has solved all of its problems, its space program signals—much to the chagrin of representatives of a country who once played a hand in the creation of a weakened India—that they are no less capable than any fully developed country.
A number of British journalists seem to be confused as to why the U.K. was providing aid to a country with a space program. The U.K. is the country responsible for colonizing India and contributing in many ways to its poverty by draining the country of resources and money for a period of nearly 90 years; however, dissecting this hypocrisy is worthy of its own article. Chandrayaan-3 is a presentation of great ability from a country that was colonized and looted for centuries and still feels its effects today. In other words, it is a demonstration of the intellect and capabilities of the Indian people — one that the whole world was there to witness and will encourage Indians everywhere to hold their heads high.
Space is not a place one single country can truly own. It is a place that offers numerous opportunities and potential discoveries we cannot even truly imagine. So much remains to be explored, and this cannot be accomplished by any one country. In fact, the Chandrayaan-1, which first captured potential evidence of water on the surface of the moon, was outfitted with an instrument built by NASA. As such, each country’s success should be seen as an achievement for the whole globe; this global collaboration and sharing of intellect and resources is what allows collective exploration of the cosmos.
This most recent moon landing was a great step towards discovering water on the moon and aided in boosting the self image of the country of India. Moreover, it may become the first step toward putting a person on Mars. That is an incredibly thrilling prospect.