Chennai: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that the Orbiter payloads of Chandrayaan-2–the second Lunar Mission–has made a bunch of discovery-class findings.
Three days back ISRO opened up its scientific discussions on Lunar Science to the people of the country, to engage the Indian academia, institutes, students, and people from all disciplines and walks of life, in the form of a two-day ‘Lunar Science Workshop and release of Chandrayaan-2 Data’.
The workshop commemorated the completion of two years of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter in the lunar orbit.
The lunar workshop delivered the big news of bunch of discovery-class of findings by Chandrayaan-2.
The mass spectrometer CHandra’s Atmospheric Compositional Explorer-2 (CHACE 2), in its pursuit to conduct first-ever in-situ study of the composition of the lunar neutral exosphere from a polar orbital platform, detected and studied the variability of the Argon-40 at the middle and higher latitudes of the Moon, depicting the radiogenic activities in the mid and higher latitudes of the Lunar interior.
The discovery of Chromium and Manganese on the lunar surface, which are available in trace quantities, by the Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) payload was announced.
The observations of microflares of the Sun, during the quiet-Sun period, which provide important clues on the coronal heating problem of the Sun, were made by the Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) payload.
The first-ever unambiguous detection of the hydration features of the Moon was achieved by Chandrayaan-2 with its imaging infra-red spectrometer payload IIRS, which captured clear signatures of Hydoxyl and water-ice on the lunar surface.
The Dual-Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar (DF-SAR) instrument could study the subsurface features of the Moon, detected signatures of the sub-surface water-ice, and achieved high resolution mapping of the lunar morphological features in the polar regions.
Chandrayaan-2 has the feat of imaging the Moon from 100 km lunar orbit with ‘best-ever’ achieved resolution of 25 cm with its Orbital High Resolution Camera (OHRC).
The Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC-2) of Chandrayaan-2, which is conducting imaging of the Moon at a global scale, has found interesting geologic signatures of lunar crustal shortening, identification of volcanic domes.
The Dual Frequency Radio Sounding (DFRS) experiment onboard Chandrayaan-2 has studied the ionosphere of the Moon, which is generated by the solar photo-ionization of the neutral species of the lunar tenuous exosphere.
The science data archived in Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC) at Byalalu are being disseminated to public through the PRADAN portal of ISSDC.
The questions received from the academia, institutes and students were addressed by the ISRO scientists during the deliberations.
A panel discussion provided the opportunity to academia, institutes and students to interact with the ISRO scientists on lunar science and Chandrayaan-2.
Chandrayaan-2 was the second lunar exploration mission of ISRO. It consists of a lunar orbiter, and also included the Vikram lander, and the six-wheeled Pragyan rover, all of which were developed in India.
The main scientific objective is to map and study the variations in lunar surface
composition, as well as the location and abundance of lunar water.
The spacecraft was launched on its mission to the Moon from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on 22 July, 2019 by India’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mark III-M1.
The spacecraft reached the Moon’s orbit on 20 August, 2019 and started orbital positioning manoeuvres for the landing of the Vikram lander.
The lander and the rover (accommodated inside the lander) were scheduled to land on the near side of the Moon, in the south polar region on September six for conducting scientific experiments for one lunar day, which approximates to two Earth weeks.
A successful soft landing would have made India the fourth country after the Luna-9 (erstwhile Soviet Union), Surveyor-1 (United States) and Chang’e-3 (China) to do so. However, minutes before touchdown on the hitherto unexplored area of the lunar surface –the South Polar Region–the lander crashed when it deviated from its intended trajectory while attempting to make a soft landing.
ISRO Chairman Dr Sivan then said ‘Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles).’
‘Subsequently the communications from the lander to the ground station were lost. The data is being analyzed’, he said.
As Dr Sivan turned emotional, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had watched the landing operation, lifted the spirits of the ISRO scientists and said ‘be courageous’. ‘What we achieved is not small,’ Modi said, adding, ‘Wish you all the best.’