Asia, Africa, Australia form ring round Indian Ocean
Bangalore: From its firm perch in the lunar orbit, Chandrayaan-1 has sent back its newest images, one of them being its first full-Earth image captured in late March by the Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) on board.
These images, taken from 4,00,000 km away, with India at the centre, shows Asia and West Asia, parts of Africa and Australia forming a terrestrial ring round the Indian Ocean. Soon after its launch last October, Chandrayaan captured images of a partial Earth taken from closer ranges: 9,000 and 70,000 km away from Earth.
The TMC, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, intends preparing a three-dimensional atlas of the moon with a high spatial resolution.
The spacecraft has also sent back images of the moon’s craters taken by the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR). The payload has given new insights into a very large impact crater, the 320-km wide Schrödinger, famous for a small volcanic vent on its basin floor. Images of deposits around the vent have indicated fine-grained material generally “expected of volcanic ash, magma erupted through explosive, fire-fountain eruptions on the moon many billions of years ago.”
The Mini-SAR has also captured “a very young” impact crater, around three km in diameter. Still unnamed, it is on the western limb of the moon near the crater Sylvester. Among the older craters captured by the radar are the 42-km Rozhdestvensky K and the 58 km-wide Sylvester, both near the moon’s north pole. One of the key objectives of the Mini-SAR, developed by NASA, is to detect water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles. It has already mapped about 80 per cent of the moon’s poles. “The imaging payloads on Chandrayaan — including TMC and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper — will in particular provide new clues to the evolution of the lunar surface,” J.N. Goswami, Director of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, told The Hindu.“We have quality data from these payloads, and they are being analysed by both Indian and U.S. groups,” said Prof. Goswami, who recently returned from the annual international meeting at the Lunar Planetary Institute in Houston.