Last week at the European Planetary Science Congress in Postdam, Germany, Manuel Grande, principal investigator of Chandrayaan-1’s X-Ray Spectrometer (C1XS) made announcements on some interesting data India’s lunar mission had gathered. During its 10 month long journey in outer space, Chandrayaan-1 gathered data for a total of 30 solar flares, giving the most accurate measurements to date of magnesium, aluminium, silicon, calcium and iron in the lunar surface.
© ISRO. A lovely picture of earth taken by Chandrayaan-1’s terrain mapping camera way before it started gazing at the Moon.
Adding some vital pieces to the jigsaw of the mineralogy of the lunar surface, the C1XS instrument investigated the lunar surface using an effect whereby X-ray illumination from the Sun causes rocks to fluoresce, emitting light at a different wavelength. This re-emitted light contains spectral peaks that are characteristic of elements contained in the rock, revealing its composition. Solar flares acted like flash bulbs, giving added illumination and allowing C1XS to ‘see’ more elements.
Grande said the results will help us further our knowledge of the Moon and planetary formation. "We were able to separate clear peaks for each of the target elements, allowing us not only to identify where they are present but give an accurate estimate for how much is there. The technology developed for C1XS opens up some exciting opportunities for future missions,” he was quoted as saying in a release.
Here’s hoping we will hear more earth shaking stories — water or no water on the Moon — soon!
Quick update: Looks like the water stories are absolutely right, after all. More coverage on Nature India .