Water On Moon Founded By Chandrayaan-I, India Mission To Moon

chandrayaan, moon water, chandrayaan 1, isro, nasa water on moon

It is a giant leap for India’s space programme and the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. India’s maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 has found water, a discovery that scientists say will upend thinking about space and boost research. And, of course, it has helped shake off the failure tag from the Rs 386-crore Chandrayaan-I project that was aborted last month. 

Although water was spotted by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a Nasa probe  and one of the 11 payloads on the spacecraft, glory shone on Isro for the discovery that was made after nearly five decades of lunar exploration by western nations. 

    ‘‘If it weren’t for Isro, we would not have been able to make this discovery,’’ said Carle Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown University who analyzed the data from the Nasa probe. She added that the discovery ‘‘opens a whole new avenue of lunar research but we have to understand the physics of it to utilize it’’. 

    A Brown University statement on Thursday said, ‘‘The discovery by M3 promises to reinvigorate studies of the Moon and potentially upend thinking of how it originated.’’ 

    Later, Nasa scientists addressing a press conference thanked Isro for its “incredibly crucial role” and said they were still studying the data sent from Chandrayaan. 

    Water molecules and hydroxyl —
a charged molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom — were discovered across the Moon’s surface. The M3 had covered 97% of the Moon before Chandrayaan-1 was terminated. Brown University scientists say while the abundance is not exactly known, ‘‘as much as 1,000 water molecule parts per million could be in the lunar soil: harvesting one tonne of the top layer of the Moon’s surface would yield 32 ounces of water’’. 

    Isro chairman Madhavan Nair described it a path-breaking event and Chandrayaan-I project director Mylswamy Annadurai called it one of the greatest examples of in
ternational collaboration in space. 

    Narendra Bhandari, who is associated with Chandrayaan, told TOI from Ahmedabad: ‘‘It is a good observation and after all it was one of the main aims of the Indian Moon programme.” 

What’s Been Found?

Very fine films of water on dust particles on lunar surface

How Much Water Is There?

1 tonne of top layer of Moon’s surface could yield 32 ounces of water

How Was It Seen?

Nasa’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on board Chandrayaan detected water from electro magnetic radiation emanating from different minerals on and just below lunar surface

Why Is It A Big Deal?

Potentially, humans could live there. They could split water into oxygen (for breathing) and hydrogen (for rocket fuel). Also, there could be water in other planets too

Why Did Scientists Miss Water Earlier?

There were traces of moisture on rock samples brought back by other Apollo missions but scientists weren’t sure if the moisture was deposited after these were brought back ‘Comets could have deposited water on Moon’

Wellknown astrophysicist, S M Chitre, said water on the Moon found by Chandrayaan-1 could have been deposited by the comets several billion years ago. ‘‘The comets are like water carriers,’’ he told TOI.

Regarding the significance of the discovery, Chitre said that it will have far reaching consequences with regard to the human colonization of the Moon and future rocket launches from the lunar surface. ‘‘The real significance of this mission is that it surveyed the entire moon. Nasa’s Apollo manned missions between 1969 and 1972 did not find any water at all because they surveyed only a bare 25% of the lunar surface,’’ he said.

The US, Russia and China are exploring the possibility of building human habitats on the Moon after 2020. Space experts said that in this race, India cannot lag behind and Isro officials also have not ruled this out.

Pieters said findings from M3 reveal new questions about ‘‘where the water molecules come from and where they may be going’’.

Scientists have for long speculated that water molecules may migrate from nonpolar regions of the Moon to the poles, where they are stored as ice in ultra-frigid pockets of craters that never receive sunlight. If, indeed, the water molecules are mobile, there is then the possibility of getting water to the permanently shadowed craters.

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the Moon’s surface as well as at the Moon’s higher latitudes where it seemed more definitive in presence. The M3 discovery has been confirmed by data from two Nasa spacecrafts — the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) — on the Cassini spacecraft and High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft.

The M3 is a joint project of Nasa’s Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Brown University.

Sources : TOI

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