Australian astrochemist talks about the significance of the Chandrayaan-3 mission

(ORDO NEWS) — On August 23, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully landed a spacecraft on the lunar south pole, a location that has always been of particular interest to scientists due to its unique conditions.

The rover Chandrayaan-3, which recently completed its 14-day mission, created history by landing on the south pole of the Moon. Dr Laura McKemmish, an astrochemist at UNSW Sydney, talks about the significance of the mission.

Interest in the lunar south pole stems primarily from the fact that scientists were aware of the presence of frozen water there, and the search for water is a significant part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.

The Chandrayaan-3 series of experiments includes spectrometric analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

“For this mission, the spectroscopic method used is basically focusing a laser on the surface, causing lunar rocks to turn into plasma. This plasma emits colors of light depending on its composition, and thus this measurement tells us a lot about geology and history breed,” says Dr McCammish.

This method was used to measure the presence of aluminum, silicon, calcium, iron and sulfur on the surface of the Moon.

As the rover completes its walk, scientists will analyze the data for signs of frozen water.

The presence of water ice at the poles of the Moon has already been definitively confirmed.

“If you think about most of the moon‘s surface, it gets sunlight, which makes the temperature range quite large,” Dr McCammish said. But water at the poles has been found in the shadows of craters, where temperatures never rise above -121 degrees Celsius, and due to the moon’s minimal tilt, sunlight never reaches these regions.

Initially, scientists from the University of Hawaii, Brown University and NASA used data from an instrument aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft launched by ISRO in 2008, which was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon without landing on it.

“Scientists first looked for water by studying the surface because it reflects light differently than other geological features. This was confirmed when they shined infrared light down. This is light that is emitted with less energy than our visible light, and water absorbs it with characteristic frequency”.

Water not only supports life and could be used by astronauts permanently on the Moon, but it also has other important uses. In particular, oxygen and hydrogen together are the fuel that can power spacecraft built from materials on the Moon for missions to other parts of the solar system.

The use of materials and fuels mined on the Moon is of great importance because it is really expensive to deliver anything from the Earth‘s gravitational pull into space since it requires a huge amount of energy.

“Anything you can create or find somewhere like the Moon, where the gravity is much lower, means it’s a lot cheaper, and it could make a human mission to Mars much easier. It’s about moving towards building spacecraft in orbit.” because it’s a lot cheaper if we can do things in space.”

While the Chandrayaan 3 mission was a historic moment in itself, it also served as a gateway to further discoveries.

As Dr. McCammish explains, exploring the moon’s south pole is exploring a new area of ​​the Earth’s moon’s surface. McCamish emphasizes that the surface of the Moon is not entirely uniform.

“It’s fascinating from a scientific point of view to understand the diversity of different environments on the Moon, but it’s also important from an economic point of view. Besides the important presence of water in the south pole areas, we’re really interested in finding out if there are regions near these water deposits that are particularly rich in metals. This was would be an ideal location for a future lunar base.”


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