The existence of sulphur on the lunar south pole has been confirmed by India’s Moon rover, according to the country’s space agency.
India became the first country to land a craft near the mostly unexplored south pole last week, and only the fourth country to land on the Moon.
“The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument onboard Chandrayaan-3 Rover has made the first-ever in-situ measurements on the elemental composition of the lunar surface near the south pole,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement dated Monday.
“These in-situ measurements confirm the presence of sulphur in the region unambiguously, something that was not feasible by the instruments onboard the orbiters,” it said.
ISRO also confirmed the presence of aluminium, calcium, iron, chromium, and titanium on the lunar surface, with additional readings indicating the presence of manganese, silicon, and oxygen.
The six-wheeled solar-powered rover Pragyan — “Wisdom” in Sanskrit — will amble around the relatively unmapped south pole for two weeks, transmitting photographs and scientific data.
Despite occasional failures, India has been steadily matching the achievements of other space programs at a fraction of the expense.
The previous Indian lunar mission crashed during its final descent four years ago, which was viewed as a major setback for the program at the time.
Since its launch over six weeks ago in front of thousands of cheering spectators, Chandrayaan-3 has captivated public attention, and its successful landing on the Moon last week came only days after a Russian lander crashed in the same region.
India became the first Asian country to place a craft in orbit around Mars in 2014, and it wants to send a probe toward the sun in September.
ISRO is slated to launch a three-day crewed mission into Earth’s orbit by next year.
It also plans a joint mission with Japan to send another probe to the Moon by 2025 and an orbital mission to Venus within the next two years.