Chandrayaan-3 Mission: Pragyan Rover Confirms Sulfur on Moon’s South Pole

For the first time in history, India’s Chandrayaan mission has discovered sulfur on the surface of the Moon. The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument, which is an integral part of the Chandrayaan-3 Rover’s instruments, has successfully achieved a historic milestone.

Chandrayaan-3 Mission:

On-site scientific experiments continue …..

The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) instrument on the Rover unequivocally confirms the presence of sulfur (S) on the Moon’s surface near the south pole, with the first on-site measurements.…

— ISRO (@isro)
August 29, 2023

She conducted pioneering in situ analyzes of the elemental composition of the lunar surface, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the south pole of the Moon. This critical examination definitively confirmed the presence of sulfur (S) in this specific region – a claim previously beyond the capabilities of instruments placed in lunar orbits.

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Initial estimates, visually presented, revealed the existence of several elements on the surface of the Moon. These include aluminum (Al), sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr) and titanium (Ti). Further evaluation revealed the presence of additional elements, namely manganese (Mn), silicon (Si) and oxygen (O). The ongoing investigation is diligently investigating the potential presence of hydrogen. It is worth noting that the development of the LIBS payload was undertaken at the prestigious Laboratory for Electro-Optical Systems (LEOS)/ISRO, located in Bengaluru.

What is LIBS?

The LIBS instrument, which stands for Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope, is the instrumental cornerstone of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. Mounted on the Pragyaan rover, it is carefully crafted to conduct in situ investigations of the elemental composition of lunar regolith and pebbles. This probe is focused on the unexplored high-latitude expanse within the Moon’s south polar region. The apparatus uses a pulsed laser source, accompanied by an array of optical lenses and mirrors, an aberration-corrected concave holographic grating, and a linear detector, which serve as its main electro-optical components. The LIBS instrument stands out for its compactness, weighs approximately 1.1 kilograms and consumes a minimal amount of energy (less than or equal to 1.2 watts).

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Essentially, LIBS works on the principle of subjecting materials to concentrated laser pulses for analysis. A powerful laser pulse is precisely directed at the surface of the material being tested, which can include rocks or soil. This pulse creates an intensely hot and localized plasma. Light emissions arising from the plasma are carefully analyzed by detectors, such as Charge Coupled Devices, after spectral resolution. Since each element emits different wavelengths of light when present in the plasma state, the elemental composition of a material can be accurately determined.

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What’s next for Chandrayaan-3?

Further, the Chandrayaan-3 mission recently provided additional insights. Notably, the profiled lunar surface temperature near the south pole is a critical endeavor that provides essential information.

Chandrayaan-3 mission: These are the first observations of the ChaSTE payload on board the Vikram Lander.

ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment) is measuring the temperature profile of the lunar upper soil around the pole, in order to understand the thermal behavior of the Moon’s…

— ISRO (@isro)
August 27, 2023

The ongoing mission agenda includes continuing the scientific pursuits of the solar-powered rover Pragyaan and the lander Vikram. This comprehensive survey is expected to take an additional seven days. It is significant that the rover has traveled a distance of about eight meters since its deployment from the lander. The central focus of the rover’s objectives remains the examination of lunar dust and gravel, which ultimately contributes to a deeper understanding of lunar geology and atmospheric conditions. This, in turn, enhances our understanding of the celestial neighbor that is the Earth’s Moon.

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Categories: Optical Illusion

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