Chandrayaan-3 takes seismic readings from lunar surface | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Chandrayaan-3 takes seismic readings from lunar surface

By, New Delhi
Sep 01, 2023 12:18 AM IST

India’s lunar exploration mission, Chandrayaan-3, took its first seismic readings on the moon, detecting the mild rumble of not just the rover and other scientific instruments probing the surface of the moon but also what appeared to be a “natural event” now under investigation.

India’s lunar exploration mission, Chandrayaan-3, took its first seismic readings on the moon, detecting the mild rumble of not just the rover and other scientific instruments probing the surface of the moon but also what appeared to be a “natural event” now under investigation.

Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover  held the first in-situ measurements of surface.
Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover  held the first in-situ measurements of surface.

Now in its eighth day of its 14-day mission where it will study, for the first time for any country, the region near the south pole, the Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover also conducted the conducting the first in-situ measurements of the surface-bound lunar plasma environment, and confirmed the presence of sulphur (S) in the region via another technique, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said on Thursday.

“Instrument for the Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) payload on Chandrayaan 3 Lander -- the first Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology-based instrument on the moon -- has recorded the movements of rover and other payloads. Additionally, it has recorded an event appearing to be a natural one on August 26, 2023. The source of this event is under investigation,” said a post by the space agency on X (formerly Twitter).

In a statement hours earlier, it had said: “Chandrayaan-3 Mission: In-situ Scientific Experiments Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere - Langmuir Probe (RAMBHA-LP) payload onboard Chandrayaan-3 lander has made first-ever measurements of the near-surface lunar plasma environment over the south polar region...”

The space agency said that the initial assessment indicated relatively sparse plasma near the lunar surface, characterised by a number density ranging from approximately 5 to 30 million electrons per cubic meter. This evaluation specifically pertains to the early stages of the lunar daytime, Isro scientists explained.

“These quantitative measurements potentially assist in mitigating the noise that lunar plasma introduces into radio wave communication. Also, they could contribute to the enhanced designs for upcoming lunar visitors,” Isro said.

The Langmuir (after Irving Langmuir) probe—a device used for characterising a plasma—features a 5cm metallic spherical probe mounted on a 1-meter boom attached to Vikram lander’s upper deck. The probe is deployed using a hold-release mechanism after the lander’s lunar touchdown. The developers of the instruments at Space Physics Laboratory (SPL), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), said that probe aims to explore operates the changes occurring in the near-surface plasma environment throughout the lunar day—from August 23 to September 6. These ongoing observations hold significant implications for comprehending the process of charging within the lunar surface, particularly in response to the fluctuations in solar space weather conditions.

Meanwhile, another set of findings were released by the space agency, from the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) payload, on-board the Pragyan rover. After one of the experiments confirmed the presence of Sulphur (S) on the lunar south pole region two days back, the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectroscope (APXS), also detected the element along with other minor elements via another technique.

Scientists said that this finding has compelled teams to dig deeper into the source of Sulphur in the area, which could possibly be intrinsic, or caused by a volcanic eruption or a meteorite hit.

“APXS instrument is best suited for in-situ analysis of the elemental composition of soil and rocks on the surface of planetary bodies having little atmosphere, such as the Moon. It carries radioactive sources that emit alpha particles and X-rays onto the surface sample. The atoms present in the sample in turn emit characteristic X-ray lines corresponding to the elements present. By measuring the energies and intensities of these characteristic X-rays, researchers can find the elements present and their abundances,” said the Physical Research Laboratory in a statement issued on Thursday.

The PRL, an Ahmedabad-based Isro lab that is involved in the Chandrayaan-3 mission, developed the APXS payload.

On Tuesday, the Lunar-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope--also on board Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft’s Pragyan rover--confirmed the presence of Sulphur on the moon.

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