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Vikram’s landing site is cold, treacherous, prone to moonquakes

The Chandrayaan-3’s descent onto the lunar surface is nothing short of a descent into an icy cold hell. While landing on the Moon in any circumstance is not a piece of cake, Chandryaan-3’s attempted soft landing on the Moon’s south pole is all the more challenging.

Many other missions, especially from the last decade or so, have failed for this reason. Because tasks like the Chandrayaan-2 and Luna 25 tried to land on the lunar south pole, they had to contend with strange magnetic fields and gravitational forces.

However, it is not just these two things that will be an issue for Chandrayaan-3. The Moon’s topography, the soil upon which the Vikram Lander tries to touch down, is treacherous and brutal, especially around its PLS or Proposed Landing Site.

Powerful moonquakes
Scientists and astronauts were surprised when they discovered how prone the Moon is to moonquakes. There are various reasons why the Moon experiences some severe moonquakes, some more severe than even our deadliest earthquakes.

A study by NASA indicates that some of these moonquakes may result from Earth’s gravitational pull. In contrast, others may be because of meteorites and other objects crashing onto the lunar surface.

Then, the Moon’s natural seismic activities are caused by the shift of plates and falls. Shallow moonquakes often take place a few miles beneath the lunar surface. After years of investigations, scientists at ESA and NASA finally concluded that these moonquakes are caused by escaping heat from the inside of the Moon and the gravitational tug-of-war between the Moon and Earth. This significantly impacted areas where new fault lines would develop because of some previous moonquakes.

Landing in a moonquake hotspot
The Chandrayaan 3 is supposed to land in an area that is a hotspot for moonquakes. The Virkam Landing module is supposed to touch down the middle of a valley between two craters named Manzinus and Boguslawsky. There’s also a third crater called Simpelious right nearby. This excellent landing spot will be around 68 to 70 degrees South and 31 to 33 degrees East coordinates, which will be very close to the Moon.

They’re keeping their options open with a backup landing site—this one’s West of a massive Moretus crater about 114 kilometers wide. The backup spot coordinates roughly 70.6 degrees South and 6.2 degrees West. It’s 68 to 70 degrees South latitude and 16 to 18 degrees West longitude.

Treacherous surface
Saying that Vikram’s PLS or proposed landing site is treacherous would be an understatement. Not only is the surface around the PLS covered in small and massive craters, but it is also an area where several fault lines pass through. Moreover, PLS hasn’t seen sunlight in ages, nor visible from the Earth or any of its observatories.

Cold Hell
Vikram’s PLS, the valley between the craters Manzinus, Boguslawsky, and Simpelious, is what happens to hell if it freezes over. Because there is virtually no sunlight in the area, it directly falls on the dark side of the Moon. Because of this, the temperatures in that area are as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit.

This causes several issues, both mechanically and otherwise. The extreme cold conditions at the South Pole bring communication hurdles and mean that any extraterrestrial object in this area, asteroids or meteors that crashed thousands or millions of years ago, would have stayed frozen and unchanged for millions of years.

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