Chandrayaan 2 has discovered water ice hidden in the shadow areas of the moon. The Indian scientific community can be proud of this achievement in front of the world. The latest discovery was made by the Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO) in the latest science data released to mark the two years of the lunar mission.
ISRO said the permanent shadow areas (PSRs) at the lunar poles contain water ice of various densities. Earlier radar-based studies of the lunar polar region have been performed to detect its presence, but it has now been discovered. The observation was made by Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar, one of the eight instruments on the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter, capable of looking up to a depth of a few meters above the lunar surface.
The first complete polarimetric dual frequency imaging radar system in the lunar orbit investigated the permanent shadow areas of the Pierre crater at the Moon’s north pole. The spacecraft was able to observe the Cabius crater, located near the Moon’s south pole. In contrast to the continuous ice sheets, regolith-mixed ice crystals were found on the lunar surface. The presence of water and hydroxyl, carbon dioxide, light hydrocarbons, ammonia and sulfur-bearing species and other volatile organisms were detected. ISRO is now studying the area for further characteristics of these snow-covered patches.
The Moon’s permanent shadow areas are the craters of the Moon’s South Pole, which do not receive sunlight all year round. For two billion years, these areas have not received a single drop of sunlight. According to NASA, ‘unlike the Earth, the Moon’s axis is almost perpendicular to the direction of sunlight, so they appear darker. The bottom of some craters has never been exposed to the sun, leaving darkness here. That too for more than two billion years. Studying these dark areas has always been a challenge, and many countries are trying to carry out missions to the dark side. When China succeeded in landing a rover in this polar region, ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 mission reached the surface two years ago. However, NASA was able to map the area using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Chandrayaan 2 provides major observations of the Moon and has now completed 9,000 orbits. Scientists using data obtained from the Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) are also clearly finding evidence of OH (hydroxyl) and H2O (water). This device helps to understand the mineral structure of the natural satellite from the moon’s electromagnetic spectrum. Chandrayaan 2 not only contributed to the study of the Moon, but also to the Sun. New developments in the hottest layer of a bright star known as the corona have been identified. The spacecraft, which found large amounts of magnesium, aluminum and silicon in the solar corona, observed 100 microfillers and provided new evidence of coronal mass heating.
ISRO, which discovered water on the moon using Chandrayaan 1, is now preparing to launch the third mission of the Chandrayaan series.