Later this week, India will attempt to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the Moon.

Key points

  • Chandrayaan-2 is India's second mission to the Moon, but its first to attempt a soft landing
  • The plan is to drop a golf cart-sized lander and a small rover near the south pole
  • The mission will explore the Moon's geology and look for water in craters

Now in its final stage, the Chandrayaan-2 mission is preparing for what has been dubbed "15 minutes of terror".

That's how long the final descent and landing will take on September 7, when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) attempts to drop a lander the size of a golf cart near the Moon's south pole.

Late this afternoon, ISRO confirmed the lander had successfully detached from the orbiting spacecraft.

"All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and lander are healthy," ISRO reported. 

. . . If the high-stakes mission succeeds, India will join the Moon landing ranks of Russia, the US and China.