The discovery of water by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on board the Chandrayaan-1 “is the first of the findings by the instrument, and we expect more things to come to light in the coming weeks,” Project Director of Chandrayaan-1 M. Annadurai said.
Mr. Annadurai said locating water ice on the moon was one of the objectives of the mission. “There is something more to come.” The mission was “technically 100 per cent successful.” Enormous data was received from all the 11 instruments flown on the spacecraft, and they were being studied.
‘A global discovery’
Principal Scientist for the mission J.N. Goswami called the finding of traces of water “a global discovery and something very important in global science.”
He said, “Scientists involved in the mission were doing critical observations of the data for the past two months-and-half, and we feel good that something has turned up.”
Dr. Goswami said: “We cannot say right now what the implications of this discovery are. We have only found that something [the traces of water] is there on the top surface of the lunar soil. We should know what is there inside. The Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will help us to do that.”
ISRO officials indicated that there were possibilities that the Mini-SAR might have found water ice in the permanently shadowed polar regions of the moon. “If water is there on the top surface of the lunar soil, there is the possibility of water ice existing below the surface in the permanently shadowed polar regions. Chances are there,” they pointed out.
The Mini-SAR was developed jointly by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University and the Naval Air Warfare Centre, both in the U.S., and it came through NASA.
The NASA’s LRO is now orbiting the moon. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite on it will be crashed on to a deep crater in the moon’s South Pole, and the dust particles kicked up by the impact will be imaged by 50 telescopes around the world.
The particles will be analysed for the presence of water ice or hydrogen on the moon.