Ouyang Ziyuan, often called the father of China’s moon program, told the Chinese-language newspaper “Science Times” that India’s Chandrayaan-3 Vikram Lander is far from the lunar south pole, sitting at 69 degrees south latitude when the moon’s south pole is between 88.5 and 90 degrees latitude.
“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.”
On Earth, 69 degrees south would fall within the Antarctic Circle, but the lunar equivalent is much closer to the pole. According to Ziyuan, the Chandrayaan-3 was 619 kilometers (385 miles) from the polar region.
The Communist Party’s “Global Times” quoted Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based senior space expert, saying that China has much better technology, according to Time.
China’s space program “has been capable of sending orbiters and landers directly into Earth-Moon transfer orbit since the launch of Chang’e-2 in 2010, a maneuver that India has yet to deliver given the limited capacity of its launch vehicles,” the publication said. “The engine that China used is also far more advanced.”
ISRO has never claimed it landed on the south pole, tech publication IFLScience says, simply that they landed closer to the south pole than any other country.
Despite this, Chandrayaan-3’s landing was important for scientists, who believe the uncharted territory could hold reserves of frozen water and precious elements that could help future missions.