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  • Writer's pictureMeesha Bhasin

Water on The Moon

Chandrayaan 2, launched on 22 July 2019, was the second exploration mission on the moon computed by the Indian Space Research organization (ISRO). Although the lander suffered an unexpected crash due to a software glitch, the orbiter has made some astounding discoveries.

The presence of Hydroxyl (OH) and water (H20) molecules has been detected by the Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) which was developed by the Ahmedabad based Space Application centre of ISRO. Further studies on the data by Indian researchers’ show the presence of OH and H20 molecules to be between 29 degrees north and 62 degrees north latitude on the surface of the moon, with widespread lunar hydration.

Chandrayaan 1 had also detected the presence of some molecules. However, the wavelength was limited to 0.4 micrometres to 3 micrometres, which made it difficult to distinguish between the hydroxyl and water molecules. Chandrayaan 2 operates between a wavelength of 0.8 micrometres to 5 micrometres which allows it to distinguish clearly between hydroxyl and water molecules.

As per reports by the Space operational centre in Ahmedabad and ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru, the formation of these molecules on the surface of the moon was due to a process known as ‘Space Weathering’.

When the solar winds blow over the surface of the moon, they erode the lunar surface. The study also states another possible reason for the formation of these molecules could be due to small meteorites that interact with the lunar surface causing chemical changes.

ISRO states that this discovery could prove to be “significant for future planetary explorations for resource utilisation”,through the Chandrayaan 3, scheduled to be launched in 2022 and several other lunar exploration missions in the future.

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