‘We cannot make moon a human colony at least in near future’
Since India’s mission landed on the ‘mysterious’ south pole, experts have said that a proper utilisation of this opportunity would see India in particular, and the world in general, reap immense benefits.
People wave Indian flags as an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket carrying the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of southern Andhra Pradesh state on July 14, 2023. India launched a rocket on July 14 carrying an unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon. (Photo by R.SATISH BABU/AFP via Getty Images)
JUBILATION followed India’s successful landing of its Chandrayaan-3 mission on moon on August 23, not only because it became the fourth nation overall to reach the celestial body and the first to touch down on its south pole, but also because it opened up an entire horizon of research possibilities.
While the space race in times of the Cold War was more about muscle-flexing between two competitive superpowers, it has an entirely different connotation in today’s times. Since India’s mission landed on the ‘mysterious’ south pole, experts have said that a proper utilisation of this opportunity would see India in particular, and the world in general, reap immense benefits, be it in terms of space research or resources.
Space experts have agreed that the landing on the south pole is significant since that part consists of resources such as water ice and elements such as aluminium, iron ore, magnesium and titanium. Discovery of key natural resources on the less explored parts of the moon can help the human cause through manufacturing of oxygen and fuel for rocket and nuclear purposes.
The exploration and feasibility of mining on the moon would complement the aim of self-sufficiency for India, said commodore (retired) R Seshadri Vasan of Chennai Centre for China Studies, adding that by establishing itself as a credible space power, India will also be in a position to help developing nations in pursuing their own space ambitions.
Professor Sujan Sengupta of Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, however, harbours a different opinion on the question whether the successful Chandrayaan-3 exploration will go on playing a key role in addressing the issues of water and mineral resources.
“Even if we find water, helium-3 or any precious material on the moon, transportation costs will not make it practical. Moon does not have free oxygen to breathe. It doesn’t have an Ozone layer to protect the surface from solar ultraviolet rays and the surface temperature is far below the point where water can exist in liquid state. So, the moon is not a habitable place. As a consequence, at least in the near future we cannot make the moon a human colony. Till now, only 12 humans have landed on the surface of the Moon. So, right now and in the near future, travelling and transporting may be possible but it’ll not have any real estate value,” he told India Weekly.