ISRO probe first to detect water

We can evolve novel technique to process water, says Madhavan Nair

ISRO probe first to detect water


The findings of the data provided by the Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which crash-landed on the lunar surface in November, clearly indicated that water molecules were present on the moon’s surface in June. This was later confirmed by findings of Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), the NASA payload, aboard Chandrayaan-I.

Calling the discovery “path breaking,” Nair said on Friday that water was not present in the form of drops, lake or even a puddle, but embedded in the surface in rocks and minerals. “We have clear indication that presence of OH (Hydroxyl) and H2O (water) is widespread and the quantity found is much larger than expected.

It is found that from 70 degree latitude the intensity of the water particles goes up as it moves to the polar regions.” he said. Asked about the potential uses of the discovery, Nair stated: “We can evolve novel technique to process water, but it will take one tonne of soil to get half a litre of water. That is the real challenge.”

The M3, which independently suggested the presence of water, had its findings supported by the analysis of the Hyperspectral Imager (HySI). Subsequent crosschecks with the archival data of the Cassini spacecraft, which passed the moon in 1999, and the Epoxi mission’s spacecraft, which flew past earth’s satellite in June 2009, confirmed the findings.

The ISRO chief said the announcement that there was presence of water on the moon was delayed because it had global significance and the analysis of the findings were scheduled to appear in a well-established scientific journal.

ISRO’s principal investigator J  N Goswami said a meeting in March with M3’s principal investigator Carle M Pieters indicated that “there was something in it.” But the group was cautious and took two months to confirm the finding. Goswami went on to say that it would take a lot more time to find whether the water molecules were present below the lunar surface.

Dismissing earlier media claims that Chandrayaan-I had failed, Nair said: “Earlier, I had said the mission was a 95 per cent success. Now, I say it is 110 per cent success.”

ISRO to rethink Chandrayaan-2 goals

ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair said they would need to revisit Chandrayaan-2’s objectives in face of the new discovery, reports DHNS from Bangalore. “Mini-SAR (Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar) will go only a few centimetres below the surface. Now, we are thinking whether it is possible to drill down deeper to collect samples,” he said.

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