Thursday, September 24, 2009

Water on moon shows in India's Chandrayaan satellite

The US National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA) has said that a mapping sensor aboard India's Chandrayaan satellite has found water on the Lunar surface.

The Chandrayaan Moon mission detecting evidence of water on the lunar surface could lead to new questions on the origins of life.

The data sources by the Chandrayaan show water may be actively moving around on the surface of the moon. Carle Pieters of Brown University in Rhode Island and his colleagues reviewed data from India's Chandrayaan 1 mission -- India's first mission to the moon -- and found some evidence of water.

Two NASA probes called Deep Impact and Cassini also found evidence of water, according to experts. This find will prompt a reexamination of the moon and its origins as well.

Next month, NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS mission will try to detect water by deliberately crashing a large spacecraft onto the moon.

Amitabha Ghosh, a NASA scientist involved in studying Mars, said, "It is a very significant finding if we ever are to venture out to set up a base anywhere in the solar system, moon is the nearest destination."

"We just hope that the water is plenty enough and easily extractable so that you can have purification process for human use. This is potentially a very big discovery for this country," Ghosh said.

Former ISRO Chairman and member Planning Commission K Kasturirangan said the discovery was very significant.

"Water is very important, ultimately in the long run if humankind has to go and habitate the moon, one of the important requirements is that you should have adequate water for survival," said Kasturirangan, under whose leadership the Chandrayaan mission was conceived in 2003.

The Rs 386-crore craft was launched on October 22 last year and terminated on August 30 following a communication failure. One of the mission’s main goals was to sniff for water.

What does this discovery mean?

Firstly, it shows that the moon is hydrated .also water could have come from water-bearing comets striking the surface. Water may also have come from the interaction of the solar wind with moon rocks and soils. This solar wind is made of mostly protons, or positively charged hydrogen atoms which hit the lunar surface and break apart oxygen bonds in soil materials.

What next?

This find could also spark research into colonization of the moon. It could spark quest to find life on the moon and NASA is slated to deliberately crash a large spacecraft onto the moon to check for life.


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