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The Indian lunar probe already has scientific results

The Indian lunar probe already has scientific results

A day on the Moon lasts for two Earth weeks, which also limited the work of the Indian lunar probe, however, even now, shortly after the end of this phase, there are already scientific results, which nature Sum it up.

The ionosphere of the moon

The Vikram lander was the first to make temperature and density measurements in the lunar ionosphere at the South Pole. According to a report by the Indian Space Agency (ISRO), a relatively dilute mixture of ions and electrons floats above the surface of the moon, at an altitude of about 100 kilometers. The probe measured between 5 and 30 million electrons per cubic metre, and as an Indian researcher told Nature magazine, the density changes with the lunar day. The density of the Earth’s ionosphere is much higher than that, in our case there are one million electrons per cubic centimeter. Since the ionosphere affects the radio link, measurements indicate that this rare lunar ionosphere will not cause significant delays in the radio signal.

Lunar soil temperature

The probe also carried a thermometer that can also measure soil temperature at a depth of a few centimeters. According to preliminary analysis of measurement data, during the lunar day, the soil at a depth of 8 centimeters is 60 degrees Celsius lower than the surface. This is due to the fact that lunar soil is not a good conductor of heat. We can experience the same thing at the beach on a hot summer day: by digging in the sand just a few centimeters away, we can find something wonderful.

However, the surface temperature was found to be much higher by in situ measurements in India compared to measurements made by the LRO probe from lunar orbit. This also means that water ice cannot be stable on the surface, it is too warm for that. In such an environment, water ice actually sublimates at -160 degrees Celsius, and Chandrajan 3’s measurement reached temperatures above -10 degrees Celsius. Of course, the situation is different at greater soil depths, and researchers expect to find consistent temperatures near -80 degrees Celsius.

Maybe it was a lunar earthquake

The rover also carried a seismograph that detected countless vibrations. One of them, approx. The 4-second decaying shaking that was separate from the others could have been a moonquake caused by a small meteorite impact.

However, in addition to impacts, lunar earthquakes can also be caused by tectonic movements and positioning of rocky bodies due to tides. In order to understand the nature of these tremors, a seismic network covering the entire Moon will be needed.

Sulfur on the moon

Since sulfur is considered a volatile substance, there was little chance of encountering it during the measurements, but the probe detected it nonetheless. In addition to sulfur, iron, calcium, silicon, aluminum – and many other elements – have also been found in the soil of the Moon’s south pole.

The amount of sulfur can tell us about the processes by which the molten lithosphere that once covered the Moon could solidify.


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