The Pragyan rover of Chandrayaan-3 verifies the presence of sulfur and other elements on the Moon’s South Pole surface.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a breakthrough statement that Chandrayaan-3‘s Pragyan rover module has successfully confirmed the presence of sulfur (S) on the Moon’s surface. This major discovery is the result of the first-ever in-situ recordings near the lunar south pole. The presence of sulfur is critical in unraveling the Moon’s constituent composition and increasing our understanding of its geological history.
Unambiguous Confirmation from a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) Instrument
According to ISRO, the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) instrument onboard the Pragyan rover found the presence of sulphur on the lunar surface near the south pole. This is the first time that in-situ measurements have been utilized to demonstrate the presence of sulphur on the Moon. LIBS works by exposing the surface of a substance, such as soil or rock bed, to high-energy laser pulses. The high-temperature plasma produced is collected and studied using equipment such as Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs).
Pragyan Rover’s LIBS Instrument Reveals Diverse Elemental Composition
In addition to sulphur, the Pragyan rover’s LIBS sensor found a number of more substances on the lunar surface. Aluminium (Al), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), titanium (Ti), manganese (Mn), silicon (Si), and oxygen (O) are among them. The presence of aluminium, sulphur, calcium, iron, chromium, and titanium has been visually portrayed in preliminary studies. Additional testing indicated the presence of manganese, silicon, and oxygen. ISRO is also doing an extensive examination into the existence of hydrogen.
India’s Unique Position and Advances in Lunar Exploration
The Physical Research Laboratory’s director, Anil Bhardwaj, stressed India’s fortunate position as the first country to safely land near the Moon’s south pole on August 23. Bhardwaj emphasized that this feat places India in a unique position to collect revolutionary data for the first time. The goal is to collect as much data as possible before the lunar sunset.
Mission Duration and Extension Prospects
The Chandrayaan-3 mission is intended to last until September 6, the day of the Moon’s sunset. ISRO chairman S Somanath, on the other hand, hinted at the prospect of extending the mission if the equipment proves durable to the Moon’s low temperatures during the lunar night and can recharge itself once the Sun rises on the lunar surface again.
LIBS: The Truth Behind the Discovery
The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) technology that enabled these groundbreaking findings was invented at ISRO’s Laboratory of Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS). LEOS is a company that specializes in the design, development, and manufacturing of attitude sensors for missions in low earth orbit (LEO), geostationary equatorial orbit (GEO), and interplanetary space.
Goals of Chandrayaan-3
Chandrayaan-3, the follow-up mission to the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission, has three key goals.
First, it intends to successfully demonstrate a safe and gentle landing on the lunar surface, something Chandrayaan-2 failed to do.
Second, the mission aims to demonstrate the rover’s capacity to navigate the lunar terrain.
Third, Chandrayaan-3 intends to undertake in-situ scientific experiments using cutting-edge technology to learn more about the Moon’s composition and history.
The insights garnered from Pragyan’s discovery promise to transform our knowledge of Earth’s natural satellite, enabling new paths for lunar science and space travel as the Chandrayaan-3 project continues its exploratory trip.