Chandrayaan to look for water on the moon (To go with Indian spacecraft will try to unravel moon’s origins)

October 16th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS  

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), Oct 16 (IANS) Is there water on the moon? India’s lunar explorer, Chandrayaan-1, will try to find out by peeking into the moon’s dark corners and sending an American probe to dig there.When Chandrayaan heads for the moon Oct 22, it will carry on board a 6.5-kg mini synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) developed by the Johns Hopkins University applied physics laboratory and the Naval Air Warfare Centre. It will look for water-ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles by digging a few metres into the surface.

Although lunar samples brought back by previous missions show the moon to be pretty dry, recent discoveries suggest water-ice may exist in its polar regions. The lunar poles contain areas that are permanently dark, creating cold traps or zones that, because the sun never shines on them, may be as cold as 50-70 Kelvin (about minus 223 to minus 203 Celsius).

“Cometary debris and meteorites containing water-bearing minerals constantly bombard moon,” M. Annadurai, the mission’s project director, told IANS. “Though most of this water is lost to space, if a water molecule finds its way into a cold trap, it should remain as no physical process is known till date that can remove it. Over geological time, significant quantities of water could accumulate.”

An Indian-made device, a high energy x-ray spectrometer (HEX), will explore the moon’s polar regions (north-south) that could be covered by thick water-ice deposits.

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