First images of moon's south pole revealed after India's historic lunar landing

The spacecraft blazed its way to the far side of the moon and captured the first images of the moon's south pole. Credit: Indian Space Research Organisation

The first images ever captured of the moon's south pole have been shared after India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft made history as it landed near the previously unexplored region.

The historic voyage makes India the first to land near the moon's south pole, a region of uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water.

This area is of particular interest to scientists as it could be used as a source of oxygen and hydrogen, which could be used for rocket fuel, according to NASA.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shared the first images from the "far side of the moon" on X, formerly Twitter, after the spacecraft completed its descent on Wednesday.

The organisation also shared an image of the spacecraft's "relatively flat" landing site, including the lander's leg and its shadow.

A composite of the images captured by the ISRO's camera during descent Credit: @ISRO / X
Part of the spacecraft's landing site, including a leg of the craft and its shadow Credit: @IRSO / X

The Vikram lander, named after Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) founder Vikram Sarabhai, is carrying a 26kg six-wheeled rover called Pragyaan - the Sanskrit word for wisdom.

They are configured to provide data to the scientific community on the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions.

Chandrayaan, meaning "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh on July 14.

A lander with a rover inside touched down on the lunar surface at 6.04 pm local time (1.34pm BST) on Wednesday, sparking celebrations across India, including in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, where space scientists watching the landing erupted in cheers and applause.

ISRO staff celebrate the successful landing of spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 on the moon Credit: AP

After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India now joins the United States, the Soviet Union and China as only the fourth country to achieve this milestone.

All of the above countries, as well as Japan, Israel, the European Space Agency and exploration company Ispace have made hard landings, where crafts have crashed on the moon, often when things don't quite go to plan.

Russia's Luna-25 spacecraft was racing Chandrayaan-3 to the moon's south pole, but last week the Roscosmos space agency said it had crashed into the moon after spinning into uncontrolled orbit.

It attributed the failure to the lack of expertise due to the long break in lunar research that followed the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

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