Friday, September 25, 2009

Moon Water - At Last Water Sighted on The Moon by ISRO (India) and NASA Scientists

These images show a very young lunar crater on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth, as viewed by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. On the left is an image showing brightness at shorter infrared wavelengths. On the right, the distribution of water-rich minerals (light blue) is shown around a small crater. Both water- and hydroxyl-rich materials were found to be associated with material ejected from the crater.

Credits: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Brown Univ.

Water on the Moon - Chandrayan 1 India's Moon Mission Accomplished
By Somik ranjan Roy

Water on the Moon! Holy Cow, I could not believe this when one of the spokesman from ISRO (which stands for Indian Space Research Organisation) made the claim that Chandrayan I, India's first moon mission had discovered water on the moon.

Like most Indians I was sceptical and for me it was too good to be true, yet there was an undercurrent of excitement somewhere in my heart.

However the following day NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Agency) of USA, confirmed and conveyed the good news to the world, that indeed there are water molecules present on the lunar surface.

It is indeed what Times of India mentioned that this discovery is " India's First Step to the Moon but a Giant Leap for Mankind".

However make no mistake for water on the moon is not present in liquid form as we are so familiar with on Earth, such as in the form of river, glacier, lakes, pools, ponds, sea and ocean. the water present is in combination with either glass (silicates) or minerals found on Lunar rocks.

When Chandrayan I because of a malfunction caused by overheating, that exceeded the 78 degrees centigrade limit which it could withstand, of the scorching sun rays reflected and radiated back by the Lunar surafce it lost contact with scientists at Bangalore, and inadvertently had to be abandoned prematurely by 14 months this August (2009), like others in India, I too fell crestfallen by the abrupt failure.

However yesterdays announcement was like a rainbow in the sky and certainly it is for scientists around the world who all are rejoicing at the prospect of extracting water from the moon itself, instead of spending millions to ship water to the Moon for use by humans as the cost estimated stands at $2,000 to $20,000 per kg.

The Chandrayan I is India's first lunar probe mission dedicated to map the lunar surface and determine the exact composition of the moon's mineral composition.

To make the probe successful NASA had offered its Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) built specially for this mission and which was singularly instrumental in detecting the wavelengths of the sun light that reflected back from the surface of the moon.

It was after scrutinising the wavelengths of the reflected light intently and after analysing them carefully, the Indian scientists were able to finally announce to the world that indeed water molecules are present on the moon, what was for forty long years had been a suspect and scientists have long debated over this.

From the analysis of the wavelength of the lunar light ( moon does not emit light on its own, it only reflects back the sun rays that strikes its surface, just as it does on our Earth), it is now confirmed that there is a chemical bond between Hydrogen and Oxygen which clearly dicates that its either water (i.e.H2O) or hydroxyl (i.e OH group).

"The data from Cassini's VIMS instrument and M3 closely agree," said Roger Clark, a US Geological Survey scientist in Denver and member of both the VIMS and M3 teams.

"Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between NASA and the India Space Research Organisation," he said. "We see both water and hydroxyl.

While the abundances are not precisely known, as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil. To put that into perspective, if you harvested one ton of the top layer of the moon's surface, you could get as much as 32 ounces of water," Clark said.

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