Chandrayaan camera detects X-ray signal from moon

January 23rd, 2009 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Jan 23 (IANS) The sophisticated camera on board India’s first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 detected the first X-ray signal from the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said here Friday.”The first X-ray signature was detected from a region near the Apollo landing sites Dec 12 at 02:36 universal time. The solar flare that caused the X-ray fluorescence was exceedingly weak, about 20 times smaller than the minimum the CIXS imaging spectrometer was designed to detect,” the space agency said in a statement.

The instrument is one of the 11 payloads on board the spacecraft jointly developed by ISRO and Britain’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

“The detection is Chandrayaan’s first step to reveal the origin and evolution of the moon by mapping its surface composition. The X-ray camera collected three minutes of data from the moon just as the flare started and the camera finished its observation,” ISRO said.

An X-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength in the range of 10-0.01 nanometers. The X-ray wavelength corresponds to frequencies in the range of 20 pet hertz to 30 exahertz. X-rays are also shorter than ultraviolet rays.

The camera - CIXS (pronounced kicks) - was designed and built at the Rutherford’s space science and technology department. It uses X-rays to map the surface composition of the moon and helps scientists to understand its origin and evolution, besides quantifying the mineral resources on the earth’s closest celestial body.

“The joint development and operationalisation of the camera is a major achievement. First signatures obtained from the spectrometer are encouraging,” ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said in the statement.

Chandrayaan was launched Oct 22 from ISRO’s Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota, about 90 km north of Chennai, on board the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) and entered the lunar orbit Nov 8. It will orbit around the moon for two years at an altitude of 100 km from its terrain.

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