According to a recent paper published in the latest issue of fortnightly journal Current Science, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) indigenous instrument aboard lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 has successfully identified the presence of hydroxyl as well as water molecules on the lunar surface. To do so, the spacecraft took help from Imaging infrared spectrometer (IIRS) that helped in differentiating between hydroxyl and water molecules.
The discovery is significant for future projects on earth’s lunar surface. This is the first for IIRS capabilities on India’s second lunar mission that can operate in the wavelength of 0.8 to 5 micrometre, the relatively broader range within which the indigenous instrument for water detection can image.
This is not the first time India’s lunar mission has made such a discovery. India’s maiden lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1 had carried a similar instrument called Moon Mineralogy Mapper (commonly known as M3) that was capable of detecting water. However, the range of detection was between 0.4 to 3 micrometre and was developed by National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The instrument had detected water molecules and hydroxyl at several locations of the sunlit region of the moon’s surface.
The paper, published on Tuesday, mentions that IIRS is an imaging instrument that collects information from the electromagnetic spectrum for understanding the mineral composition of the lunar surface. The instrument was developed by the Ahmedabad-based unit Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO.
The study concluded that proper interpretation of hydration features on the lunar surface through spectral analysis is significant as it provides important inputs regarding geology and geophysics of the mantle in terms of their mineralogy, chemical composition, rheology and solar–wind interaction. The team of scientists also mentioned that the study is also significant for future planetary exploration for resource utilisation. The presence of these molecules also provides a window to important clues about their origin and evolution.